Tire Change- August 17, 2015

I completely forgot to tell you all about my new job. I love that 2015 has turned into my “year of getting fit” so much so that I am now a Stroller Strides instructor with FIT4MOM. Seriously! Remember how I lost all that weight and got healthy with FIT4MOM through Body Back? Well, it lead me to instructor training for Stroller Strides and I’m having a blast planning and leading classes.

The one piece of equipment that is crucial for Stroller Strides is obviously a stroller. I love my single jogger. I have a Bumbleride Indie. It’s a great stroller and gets the job done for class. It was cute how I started this back in February, 2014 when Henry was 3 months old and I was like, “I mean, I’m not spending a ton on a BOB double jogging stroller. It’s not like I’m going to be doing this for long!” Ha! The joke was on me when I cheaped out and bought a chinzy knock-off for $100. I have the seats tied up with strings so that the kids sit upright and don’t go flying out the back. I have replaced the tires at a local bicycle shop multiple times.

The tires. That brings me to the point of this post. In Stroller Strides class last week I heard a “pop” and was suddenly unable to push the stroller without incredible drag. The front tire was flat down to the rim. No running for me in that class. I’m just glad I wasn’t teaching. I brought up the rear of all the moms in the class as my kids road the bumpiest ride of their little lives.

The flat eventually led me to the bicycle shop. Meanwhile, all the moms with BOB’s in the class were like, “Oh my God! Your tire! How do you get that fixed?!” They clearly haven’t had the tire issues I have and are not as familiar with the bike shop.

This was awhile ago when I got a tire on the single repaired after it an appropriate 4 years of ownership versus 3 times in a freakin' year like I have with the double!

This was awhile ago when I got a tire on the single repaired after an appropriate 4 years of ownership versus 3 times in a freakin’ year like I have with the double!

At the store I strapped Henry in the seat and PUUUUSHED the flat stroller to the back where their repair center stays busy. We waited as snooty “bike people” turned their noses up at my little ones and my stroller. Whatever. I’m not dropping $2,000 on a bicycle only to have people in cars get super pissed in their larger, faster killing machines as they zoom past me. We just waited. Henry was getting really antsy. The tire check for the Lance Armstrong wannabe ahead of me was taking forever.

When he finally got to us the repair guy was like, “Uh, can you take him out of the stroller?” I said, “Oh no, you don’t want to unleash the beast. It’s probably best to keep him strapped in. The last few times I was here they just replaced the tire while he sat lopsided in the stroller. Is that okay?” He laughed at my “unleash the beast” comment and continued. This dude was taking forever. My little beast was lopsided and going nuts. I caved and pulled out my phone so he could watch “Thomas and Friends.” I tried to get some WiFi. I asked the repair guy for the password. He said they weren’t allowed to give it out and they get no cell signal. They can’t even text inside the store.

As if Henry understood what all that meant, he lost his toddler mind and started with the thrashing and screaming. I pulled him out, preparing to chase him. And chase him, I did. Through the seats, weird cleats and ugly cycling shirts. He darted past a display with a $7,500 bike. I chased him screaming to find his sister. Oh yeah, I also had my 4-year-old, Charlotte with me. She found the $300 kids bikes (What the hell? No.) She was playing with the streamers you can buy to put on handlebars. Naturally, she chased her brother with them.

This was one of my worst parenting days. Let me say, my children are NOT the children who run amok in stores. People hate those kids like they hate snooty cyclists on major roads. Maybe it was the wait, but they had lost their minds and any smack I laid down was futile. I wrangled them and threatened them. At one point I had to wipe a booger from Henry’s face as he sped by. A snooty cyclist lady was looking at me. She knew I had a booger on my hand. Dammit! I did what I had to do. I wiped it on the inside of my t-shirt when she looked away. Sigh.

I checked on our progress with Henry screaming in my arms. I asked for another tire to be replaced because it was looking weak. The guy swore to me it just needed a new tube. Okay. Whatever. Let’s get on with this. When the tire was finally repaired I paid WAAAY more than expected. I wrangled them out the door, yelled at my daughter to step off the $300 bike. I reminded her of her super awesome “Frozen” bike that was like, $70 at Target by-the-way. My toddler wailed as I rolled out the door and heard a familiar “pop!”

I TOLD that guy the third tire needed replaced! My daughter whined. My son screamed. I sweated. I had one of those “How is this my life?!” moments. UGH! It had been 45 minutes at this point. I wheeled back in the store. He replaced it. He acted all generous by only charging me for the tube this time. By now I had paid nearly $75 for stroller tires, which was getting close to what I paid for the stupid stroller to begin with.

No, I’m not buying a new double jogger any time soon. Charlotte is going back to preschool in a few weeks and I’ll be down to the single jogger in Stroller Strides classes.

The moral of this story: If you cheap out on a stroller, make sure the bicycle shop near you has good WiFi or you could end up with a booger on the inside of your shirt. 


Two Target Trips- August 6, 2015

I explained on Instagram and Facebook that I had a truly extraordinary weekly pilgrimage to Target yesterday. Not once did I say “No! Don’t touch that!” “No, not today.” “Maybe for your birthday.” “Stay with me!” or “Keep your hands in the cart!”

target alone

Yep. It was the mother of all Target trips. I was a mother, ALONE. Sans children. By myself. It was everything I thought it could be. I perused clearance sports bras and snagged some of my favorite coffee creamer from the grocery section without anyone whining about how cold it is near large refrigerators. Thank God for grandparents being willing to watch them.

Last week’s Target pilgrimage was the exact opposite. These are some exact phrases I used on this trip: “Stop hanging on the cart!” “Oh wow! That IS a different Doc McStuffins than yours.” “No, we’re not buying toys today.” “You will NOT get chocolate milk if I have to tell you again!” “Stop throwing things out of the cart!” “You already had a snack!” “We’re almost done, Buddy.”

As I dragged my weary babes and full cart to the checkout I started unloading. I looked over at my 4-year-old perusing the candy by the register like they were clearance sports bras. That’s when I saw her snatch a chocolate bar, break it in half and put it back. In an instant she did again! She was ridiculously fast with her greedy little preschool hands. I grabbed her wrist, shocked at her behavior.



I was so freakin’ mad with this child! I made her apologize to the clerk through tears. I bought the three mangled chocolate bars. She sobbed all the way home as I threatened to take away every toy she ever owned. I questioned everything I knew about parenting as I texted my husband to tell him what she had done so he could also wonder if we needed an overpriced psychologist to assess this behavior.

I have a confession about each of these Target trips:

  1. On my solo shopping trip I may have glanced down the toy aisle, missing them a little.
  2. On my shopping trip with the candy incident I was a little excited I had to buy the Rolos. I ate the hell out of those Rolos.

A Letter To My Kids at 4 1/2 & 1 1/2- July 21, 2015

Dear Charlotte & Henry,

I didn’t write you individual letters at your half-birthdays back in May like I meant to. I haven’t written much lately, actually. I think it’s because I’ve just been with you and enjoyed you. Especially this summer. Summer 2015 has been so much fun for us and I love that we still have so many weeks left together before the fall.

This weekend a friend took this picture of me.

Amy July 2015

This isn’t a picture I would normally post. I’m not as posed and camera-ready as you, no doubt, have learned I like to be. It’s a vain flaw I hope to not pass down to you. I want both of you to always know there is no “bad picture” of either of you. You are beautiful at all angles.

I think I like this picture because it reflects how I feel at this point in my life. When the shutter snapped I had just been talking to both of you. Looking at you, and discussing you with my friend. My eyes are a little tired, but happy. That is me. That is your mother at nearly 34 years-old, parenting a 4 1/2-year-old and a 1 1/2-year old. My face shows our life right now. Every day I wake up to wrangle, snuggle, feed, kiss, play with you and carry you.

Charlotte, I can’t tell you how proud Daddy and I are when we see you excited and brave as you jump into the pool. You’ve learned so much at your swimming lessons this summer. Your stories, your games and songs make everyday exciting and fun. You are so smart and capable, now! I’m constantly amazed with the newest thing you’ve learned. You make us laugh all the time. I’m sorry I laugh so loud that you have to cover your ears. I can’t help it! You’re funny! Your hair is so long and beautiful! It falls in ringlets down your back. It’s the hair of dreams. It’s amazing.

Henry, you make us smile with your sweet looks, your crazy run and silly antics. Your personality grows every day. Your love of trains, cars and trucks is intense. You run so fast I can’t catch you some times. Every day you have a new like or dislike. You’re talking so much at 20 months-old! Your favorite things to say are “Mama,” “car,” “choo-choo,” “Daddy,” “Jinjin,” (Ginger) and “Shaya.” (Charlotte) You have your own word for your favorite food, “Ahbees.” Those are berries. You would eat your weight in fruit if I let you, son. We don’t even say “berries” anymore. Only “Ahbees.” You had your first real haircut from a stylist. You look more like a little boy than a baby, but your beautiful curls remain.

The biggest thing I’ve seen this summer is the relationship between the two of you grow. Sigh. There are moments of sibling rivalry. Henry, stop pulling her hair. Charlotte, stop antagonizing and taunting him. But, other times. Maybe when you think Daddy and I aren’t looking, you play together. Charlotte, at a play group the other day you saw another little boy take Henry’s car. You patiently followed him until he set down the truck. You quickly picked it up and gave it back to your brother. You didn’t like another kid having it. Henry, you found your sister’s hair bow on the floor the other day. You went up and pressed it to her head. You know it’s hers.

Mostly, this photo of me shows my hope for all that is to come and my satisfaction and joy with the now. Thank you for letting me be your mother. It is the privilege of my life.

I love you my darling, darling girl and my sweet, sweet boy.



Charlotte and Henry


Really Useful Engines: Sexism in “Thomas & Friends”- July 10, 2015

Having a 1 1/2-year-old son means we are now getting into more “boy toys” or “boy things” in our house. My inner feminist cringes a little with that statement as the gender specificity in children’s toys and merchandise is ridiculous and annoying these days, but having a girl and a boy has made me realize something about gender specific toys. They’re specific for a reason. I never said the word “princess” and my little lady is naturally drawn to the poofy, glitter, ruffly, sparkle, pinkness in life. Since my son could crawl, he went to anything he could find with wheels. Cars, trucks, trains or his sister’s doll strollers. If it has wheels, he pushes it. I swear it’s in their DNA. Overall, they stick with the gender preferences society says they should have. We always assure them, they can like whatever they want with no expectations.

Cinders and ashes! Henry’s obsession with “Thomas & Friends” is real. Congratulations Sir Toppham Hat. You have a handsome little convert. He rides the rails on the island of Sodor with his trains daily. We have a Thomas table, a Thomas ride-on toy, his Thomas shirt and Thomas hat. He does not have that many of the actual trains because I swear, Thomas is the “American Girl” of boy toys. He toddled over to me with one in hand at the store the other day. 22 bucks for one little wooden train!? Leave that one to shunt freight. It’s not going home with us. I’ll chug over to Craigslist for bargains, thank you.

Henry loves Thomas & Friends

This week I picked up some special books for the kids after a shopping trip with Henry that ended with a display scattered on the floor of Barnes & Noble and the clerk basically asking me to leave. Yes, the books were “his” and “hers.” “My Little Pony” for the girl and “Thomas & Friends” for the boy.

There were two versions of the “Thomas & Friends Busy Book.” One had just Thomas on the front, the other had the title engine with his friends Percy and Rosie. I glanced through each of them. There were several female engines featured in the story in with the Percy/Rosie cover. Nice! I went with that one.  The Island Sodor is the setting for the show/movies/books. Sodor is a sausage fest. A lot of the show and movies consist of the male engines arguing over who is the “most useful.” Sigh. Calm down boys, you all have big funnels. Emily, Rosie, Belle, Mavis and Caitlin are the only female engines I can really think of. I like it when they are featured.

This is a short board book that gives a brief description of many of the characters. Let’s read this fine piece of literature, shall we? Bare with me, it’s only 6 pages.

Thomas page 1

Page One:

  • “Thomas, Percy, James and Gordon are eager to be Really Useful Engines! They’re at Brendam Docks picking up important cargo that they will deliver to different places all over the Island of Sodor.”

For the uninitiated, it is the most important thing ever to be “really useful” if you are an engine on Sodor. I actually really like that about the show. It’s nice. The engines want to work hard and do their jobs. Most of the time it’s cute.

Thomas page 2

Page Two:

  • “Sleek and shiny Spencer transports passengers of the royal kind, while Whiff, who couldn’t care less about his looks, loves collecting garbage! What do these engines have in common? Pride for a job well done!”

Spencer comes across as a total prick on the show. He’s a fancy new engine that goes really fast. They all hate him. Whiff is the goofy outcast with glasses. They get positive mentions in this book. Nice! POSITIVE character summaries for all the engines. I love it! So far so good. But, wait! Page Three happens…now.

Thomas page 3

Page Three:

  • “Wiser and older Edward always has good advice for Emily, who is a very nice engine, but can be a little bossy! They are happy to whir along together, exchanging stories of having been helpful.”

Oh! Well, thank God little miss Emily has a swell guy like Edward to give her such great advice! How dare she be a bossy girl! She should be thankful an “wiser and older” bloke puts up with her. Hasn’t the author of this book heard the Thomas song? The line is “Emily really knows her stuff!” I thought she was the knowledgeable, Hermione type. Who knew she was such a shrew?

Thomas page 4

Page Four:

  • “Bertie and Henry always enjoy a spirited conversation about which is faster: buses on roads, or engines on rails? Both are extremely proud of their speediness, so this chat may end in a race! 

Yeah, yeah. Race. Measure funnels. Whatever. Boys like competition. We get it.

Thomas page 5

Page Five:

  • “Cheeky Thomas and lively Rosie make a great pair! Although Rosie’s enthusiasm for everything Thomas does can sometimes annoy him, Thomas has come to realize that together they are Really Useful Engines!”

Thomas, I feel you man. Nothing is worse than an over-eager chick, amiright? Good for you for managing to work with your female counterpart. We knew you had the buffers to handle her.

Thomas page 6

Page Six:

  • “When Mavis is not hard at work at the Quarry, she can be found at the Vicarstown Dieselworks. Thomas knows he can count on this strong-willed, yet friendly diesel to help get the Steamies and the Diesels to cooperate!”

Thank God that “yet friendly” is in there! A female engine can’t just be “strong-willed” that wouldn’t come off well as she tries to get all the boys to get along.

All of the engines, male or female are typically described as “hardworking” and “useful.” That’s great, but the the women have conjunctions in their descriptions. What do I mean?

  • Emily: “…who is a very nice engine, BUT can be a little bossy!”
  • Rosie: “ALTHOUGH Rosie’s enthusiasm for everything Thomas does can sometimes annoy him…”
  • Mavis: “…this strong-willed, YET friendly diesel.”

Why do each of the females in this book have conjunctions in their descriptions? The male characters don’t. Thomas is always described as “cheeky” in the song and James is “vain,” so it’s not always positive for the guys, but you get my point.

Is this a huge deal? No. Would I ban my kids from watching or reading “Thomas & Friends” because of this book? No. Do I really think this will influence my toddler son’s impression of women? Of course not. My point is, sexism creeps in to our children’s media often. I think it’s important that we recognize it and address it if a parent feels it is too invasive or could influence attitudes. I want to expose my kids to positive male and female characters in anything they read or watch.

We’ll likely chuff happily to “A Day Out With Thomas” later this year or next. We’ll keep watching the show and reading the other, less sexist books we have. We love Thomas although/but/yet, I will leave out the conjunctions when I read this book.


My Toddler Fell Into The Pool Yesterday- July 3, 2015

My toddler fell into the pool yesterday.

He’s okay. Everything is fine. It was not as dramatic as that sentence may lead you to believe. I think that’s part of the reason it was so scary. It was such an ordinary scene. Such a quick incident.

In a nightmare I had last summer when my son was a baby he went under water in the pool. In the dream I couldn’t reach him. He slowly sunk deeper beyond my reach. I heard my own screams and my daughter’s screams as she swam beside me, begging me to reach her brother. It was wildly dramatic and frightening. I woke startled and upset. It was awful.

Yesterday was nothing like my nightmare. It was a typical Thursday morning. I toted my little ones with a stroller full of stuff into the pool. My daughter had her group swimming lessons or “Junior Swim Team” class. This left me wrangling the wild little bull that is my 19 month-old. It’s an hour of entertaining toddlers who can’t go in the pool until class is over. He whined to get out of the stroller when he saw his little friend. They threw toys in the shallow end of the pool. They ran. The other mothers and I caught them and told them not to run. The class was going on in the lanes, dare I say “swimmingly.” I took my little swimmer to the bathroom while another mother watched my son. We came back. Everything was fine. I assured my impatient little guy it wouldn’t be too much longer before he could get in the pool too.

Well, you could say he got in the pool.

I was standing RIGHT THERE. I was outside the water at the shallow end, watching my daughter in her lane. My son was right by my leg, near the edge of the pool. I watched my daughter with her instructor as I turned to put something on the stroller. I don’t remember what it was. My phone, my drink, my sunscreen. Something. I had something in my hand. I walked three steps to set it down. That’s when I heard the splash.

I turned and saw him flip over in the water and his head pop up above the surface. I pulled him out so quickly I barely remember it. I grabbed him tight and took him over to a chair. He screamed and cried. He was scared and mad that he had water in his nose. I wrapped him in a towel and held him until he calmed down. I looked around and saw some sympathetic, knowing looks from parents. I saw some relieved looks from lifeguards. I eventually avoided all their gazes, worried I was being judged as a bad mother.

I felt awful. It took me awhile to calm down. It took him no time at all. He wanted to get off my lap right away and run to the other toddlers who didn’t have mothers who let them fall in the pool.

This was my brain:

“What if he had hit his head?! He was like, a foot from the pool steps. We should’ve joined a pool with one of those endless edges. I think he had been reaching for a toy, the toy I let him throw in the empty shallow end because he was having so much fun. I never should have let him throw toys in the pool. This is why we rented a beach house with no pool on vacation last week. Was I watching the class for too long and not paying enough attention to him? Did I have my phone? Had I been looking at it? Someone texted me earlier. Another mom had borrowed my sunscreen. When did she hand it back to me? Was it right then? What did I set in the stroller?!? WHY COULD I NOT REMEMBER THESE BASIC THINGS!?!”

There is one thing I did right. He had his life jacket/floaty thing on 45 minutes before the pool was open for us to swim. That was during most of the class while we waited. I like to put it on him right when we get there for this exact reason. He has a Puddle Jumper. Some parents don’t like the Puddle Jumper because it tips kids forward a bit, putting their faces in the water, but it has worked for us.

puddle jumper

This was right after he fell in.

I worried that somehow a flotation device would hinder and delay the kids’ swimming. I heard that it was bad to let them use them because they become dependent on them. I read about how they may not understand that they don’t have it on and they’ll go running in the pool even if they don’t have it on. Blah. Blah. Blah. Whatever. His head popped up above the surface instantly today. That’s all I needed to see to know he’s wearing his Puddle Jumper the second we get to the pool.

Funny thing. After he fell in, he couldn’t wait to start jumping in the pool to me when it was time to swim. He had more confidence and did not feel the need to cling to me while we were in the water.

I am still beating myself up. I’m still replaying those three seconds in my head. I’m still thanking God he didn’t hit his head. Thanking God it wasn’t worse. I keep imagining both kids drowning. It sucks. We got back in the water. I was still shaken, but I didn’t want the kids to see that. I didn’t want this to make them afraid of the water. Next week I will bring some games and toys to play with further away from the pool. I’ll bring more snacks to see if I can keep him strapped in the stroller longer. Lord knows I’ll put him in his Puddle Jumper and watch him even closer so that a quick accident with little consequence will never become my tragic nightmare.

Please be safe this summer!