Do You Front Porch Sit?

On July 23, 2014, in First Set, Mom, Second Set, by Jennifer McPherson

There is nothing better on a summer night than front porch sittin’.

The past few nights have been absolutely perfect. The temperatures hover around 80 degrees with no humidity, Ahhhhhhh. I have the most FABULOUS rocking chair for sittin’, given to me as a gift by our dear friends from France (hello Xavier & Joycelyne). Below, I have compiled a list of my reasons why front porch sittin’ is da-bomb.Rocking chair on a front porch

  1. How about just plain ole’ sitting down (yep, Mom’s will agree, sitting is rare).
  2. Being outside in shorts and a tee shirt, not too cold and not too hot, perfectly comfortable.
  3. Watching your children enjoy being kids as they ride bikes and scooters up and down the street.
  4. Having a conversation with your husband (another rare experience).
  5. Peace and quiet.
  6. Staring out at the mountains makes me go into a deep think tank.
  7. Watching giant fluffy clouds blowing across the skyline.
  8. Realizing how blessed I am for the life I have been given.
  9. How amazing it is that ice water tastes incredible while sitting on my front porch.
  10. Momentarily feeling the slowness of life.  My most favorite thing about sitting on my porch.  Life keeps flying faster than the day before.  I long for a slow down….

What is your favorite thing about front porch sitting? I would love to hear from you, comment below or head over to my Facebook page to join in on the conversation.

 

 

Has Your HOA Gone Too Far?

On July 19, 2014, in Mom, Second Set, by Jennifer McPherson

Maybe I am just a hillbilly living in suburbia?

Let me tell you a little bit about me.  I am practical, not elaborate in needing too many material things, I love allowing my kids to experience the world by doing, building, creating, and seeing.A wooden bicycle ramp

Last year Knight and the hubby went to the man store (aka, Homedepot) and purchased scrap wood.  The purpose was to allow Knight to build something.  And that he did.  He built a bicycle jump with no plans and no help. ALL BY HIMSELF.  It is awesome! However, based on suburbia standards this unsightly jump is an eyesore to all the people who must drive by.  How do I know? Because my HOA let me know in the form of an official letter.  Clearly, the hunk of wood is an embarrassment to the community.

Really? A bicycle jump built entirely by a 7 year old is a complete disaster? It works perfectly and he uses it every day. He drags it out onto the sidewalk where he and his neighborhood friends compare with one another how incredibly rad their jumps are. Should we not be celebrating such an achievement, as parents and community members.  Has America become this entitled?  It is shameful. I live in a nice house, in a nice part of town and yet I am embarrassed at how some people think. Is this who we’ve become? Our big houses, in shiny neighborhoods, displaying our perfectionism to the outside world, this somehow defines who we are?  This is not ME. I am embarrassed, not of the jump, but to be associated with people whose perceived image ultimately corrupts the very world around them.

What does this teach our children? To be elitists, or worse materialistic elitists perhaps. Not my kids, they will know that every home you pass by has a story.  Every person is equal to the next person, big house, tiny house, apartment, or living in a box on the street. There is NO difference. Living life with false perception is a wasted experience.  My kids will know what defines you is not what you own, where you live, how perfect your house looks, or who you associate with.  You are defined by the compassion you have for ALL people around you regardless of their ‘things’.

Perhaps I am just a hillbilly living in suburbia.  If that’s the case, then I apologize for not conforming to this perceived reality. But I doubt that, God alone knows the truth behind all perfectly groomed houses, somethings you just cannot cover up.

Have HOA’s gone too far?  Have you had experiences that have questioning the true integrity of people?

 

Week in Review – Or Wrap Up, Whatever…

On July 13, 2014, in Crazy Stuff, First Set, Mom, Second Set, by Jennifer McPherson

Beau & Calvin

Teen girl sitting by lake Beau has been dating someone now for – I want to say half a year now.  Maybe longer, but I am old so last week to me usually means two months ago.  Anyhow, her boyfriend is a really nice guy and I totally approve.  Whenever he is over, the hubby loves to drill him.  One time, he was asking him all kinds of questions then suddenly says something about cleaning his gun.  The boyfriend, we will call him Calvin, looked up so fast when he heard the word Gun, like when you’re at a little league game and you hear someone yell ‘Heads UP’, it was classically hilarious, I could not stop laughing.  The look on his face was priceless, as in if there was a MasterCard Priceless commercial. The exact look that you want someone dating your daughter to have.  Something like this:

Bowl of Cereral = $.50 cents

Daughter’s Prom Dress = $300.00

Look on boyfriend’s face when he hears the word GUN come from his girlfriend’s father = PRICELESS!!!!


Fast forward now about 3 months later.  We had Calvin over tonight for dinner.  The hubby was talking to him in is usual interrogation manner, something about how Beau never lets him buy her things, blah, blah, blah then hubby says, common, help us out and buy her some clothes.  Calvin responded by saying: “so you want me to buy her some lingerie?”

Hubby had a mouth full of soda that literally projectiles out his mouth and nose upon hearing Calvin’s proposal. The funniest comeback and payback for the gun comment I have ever heard in my life.  I could not stop laughing!  Dude that was funny…. Ahem, as long as you didn’t really mean it, Calvin!

Knight & the Future

Tonight Knight tells me (apparently my cost conscious son): “If I don’t have a lot of money when I go to college, I will go to the one that I can afford, because it is better than not going at all.”  God love this kid!

Ann Marie & Injuries

small girl with owee on her forehead Strike 1: Back in May, Ann Marie broke her ankle on the trampoline.  Strike 2: No sooner than when she got her cast off, we were on the last leg of our hike in the Rocky Mountains when she tripped and fell forehead first on the ONLY rock withing 30 square feet on the trail.  The rock happened to be angled and pointed up, ideally perfect for major injury if you find it with your forehead. Chances are HIGH with Ann Marie that she would land on that rock.  She had a black, bright pink, purple and blue eye for a week and a half.  Strike 3: On our vacation to Montana, Ann Marie jumped in the pool at a corner, turned as she jumped in and hit her chin on the side of the pool.  With an emergency run to the Target First Aid isle and a little creative Band-aide stitchery, we closed the wound and she is now on her road to wound-less-ness.  First time in a few months.  Keep it up Ann Marie so I can pay off the hospital bills before you rack up new ones!

What was the memorable moment of your week?

 

 

Valuable Lessons Learned for Kids on Road Trips

On July 9, 2014, in Crazy Stuff, Mom, Second Set, by Jennifer McPherson

We just got back from a mini vacation road trip to Montana.  Dang if we haven’t become experts at road tripping with little ones.  You may have seen us at the gas station, we were the ones with the kids in mismatched PJ’s, hair wild as the wind, and wearing only socks (non matching socks of coures). Pretty sure I saw a redneck sneak a pic, then exclaimed to his wife: “This is going on the Wall of Walmart.”

Yep, we deserve that medal.

None the less.  It was awesome!  The entire purpose of our trip was to pick up a cow we bought from my hubby’s Navy buddy from back in the day. Off we went, bye-bye Colorado. We drove through the farmlands of Wyoming and the mountains of Montana. Did I mention, I am in love.  The landscape. To die for. I have actually been through the same roadway last year but for some reason this year the beauty, more like the simplicity, struck me hard.

The kids were the most rockin’ ride-a-longs for this trip.  Someone advised me about getting little cheap toys, putting them into bags and handing them out every hour or so along the trip.  I spend $25 at Party City for small trinkets and party bags.  I filled each bag with two little cheap items.  And every hour and a half I gave them each a bag (of course with IDENTICAL ITEMS in each one – I wasn’t born yesterday people).  I consider our family seasoned road trippers and the bag ides was clearly the best one yet.

We stayed the first two nights in Bozeman, Montana.  Which I have sort of a connection with Belgrade/Bozeman and my oldest daughter, we will save that story for another day.  As always Bozeman and Belgrade did not fail to impress.  We hiked up to the ‘M’ which is around 3 1/2 miles, the longest hike our kids have been on. The grade was fairly steep at times too. Actually, let me clarify that.  About 1/2 mile in, there is a sign that says: Easier hike: 1 1/2 miles with an arrow pointing to the left.  More difficult but significantly shorter hike:  1/2 mile with and arrow pointing up.  Normal 44 year old parents of two small children would opt for the longer yet easier hike.  Apparently, We are not your traditional rational older parents. We opted for the shorter, get there faster hike. I’m just sayin’, I do not recommend this way for people with small children.  You will ultimately look like dumb and dumber, grasping tightly onto your child’s arm, trying to keep them from sliding on the loose gravel down the really steep mountain side. There were people saying, idiots, under their breath – I am certain of it.

And – for the record.  It is not shorter.  The two elderly women who were walking in front of us, beat us to the top.  If you are in shape, don’t have two small children that you are trying to prevent from somersaulting down the mountain side, it would totally be faster.  We made it and here is the picture of our accomplishment.

Standing in front of the M on a hikeCollege M in Montana

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then of course the other activity of choice, swimming! The kids proved they are part fish by the endless hours they swam. They had a blast!

The third day we drove 3 hours up to Great Falls, Montana to meet the former Navy man turned rancher. Super nice guy. He had a bunch of cattle out in the fields and of course – a hammock!  Knight and Ann Marie have never experience a hammock.  Let’s just say they loved it.  They are not quite old enough to play – let’s flip each other out of the hammock on purpose yet, but they did take a few spills while trying to navigate in and out of it.

Two kids relaxing on a hammock

How I dream of the day I can kick back, close my eyes, and doze off in a hammock – for more than 20 seconds.

The trip home.

We set off on our destination home at roughly 6AM.  Car loaded with snacks, kids, cooler’s and party bags!  About 5 hours into our journey along one of the 70 mile an hour back roads, some form of animal was crossing the road.  Hubby slows the car and we both lean forward to try to figure out what kind of wild animal it is, a beaver?  As we get closer we realize, it is a long haired Dachshund. Huh?  That’s weird, there were no houses for miles and miles and miles.  We stop the car and coming from the other direction is a semi, he too see’s the tiny pooch and stops beside us.  We are now blocking the entire roadway.  I know, I know, to all us suburanites blocking the flow of traffic is a downright outrage.  Calm down people, I am pretty sure we could have stayed parked on the roadway for 30 minutes and not a single car would drive up.  The puppy was hesitant at first, then I leaned down like a had a snack and he came to me.  I scooped him up and off we went on a new adventure of trying to find the owner!  The town of Harlowton, Montana was just a few miles up the road surely someone there will know whose dog this is (that is how it works in small towns of like 500 people).  The puppy had tags with a vet contact number and address for Harlowton but because it was Sunday they were not open. We did manage to find the sheriff station and left the puppy with them.  A lady came out and said, I am pretty sure I know whose dog this is.  See… small town livin’. Ahhh sounds good on paper doesn’t it?  I am guessing the pup got spooked by fireworks over the 4th and ran off. He was pretty far out for his tiny legs to travel.

It felt good to save a life, and then…. it felt horrible.  You see when the puppy got in the car, he would not sit on my lap, he hightailed it onto Ann Marie’s lap where he excitedly sat and continuously gave her kisses.  This is like heaven for a 5 year old.  A new puppy!  She was in love, TRUE LOVE.  We explained to her that it is the right thing to return the puppy, he has a family and probably a little girl just like Ann Marie is sitting at home crying for her missing puppy.  This explanation is just too logical and mature for her.  After all, she was in love.  The tears lasted for a good 15 or 20 minutes.  She was heartbroken.

little girl smiling holding a puppyGirl crying

The value of lessons learned on road trips with children cannot be learned by reading a book or simply talking about lessons of life. I am honored to provide my children the experience to see the world and how other people live their lives first hand. That about sums it up, another fabulous road trip for our pocket of memories.

Now, where should we go on our next road trip?

 

Parenthood.

This is the single most commonality which unites every parent and places them in a special elite club of: Are you FREAKING kidding me? (or if you have a sailor mouth insert the actual F word here).   The club is not for the weak at heart. There is puke, poop, vomit, and other nastiness that you never entertained possible.

For instance:

The other night just before bed I had Knight go hop in my shower.  ”It is time for bed Knight, I holler as I open the door to the shower. What I see will terrorize non-parents, parents, and OCD people everywhere.  Knight turns to me and says, “I am cleaning my butt.”  My momstincts say: “Awesome, honey. Good job getting all the nooks and cranny’s.”  Until suddenly I see it… my bar of FACE SOAP being swiped up and down my 7 year old’s backside like a credit card at the supermarket check out.

Dude!

Every parent who does not have a nanny to do laundry has seen it… the undies in the hamper.  Cleanliness does not set in for children until much older. Apparently teaching a child to wipe their backsides is much more difficult than one might think. Go ahead, insert a #hastag #parentfail here.

Refocus people.

My F-A-C-E.  S-O-A-P!

How long has this practice been going on?  How many mornings have I grabbed that same facial soap bar, rubbing it back and forth across my FACE, completely unaware the night before my 7 yr old was paying for groceries and gas with his backside!

You always hear people say…. I don’t know how kids survive to parenthood.  Seriously?  How do parents survive parenthood?

Trampoline, You Were Fun, Not Gonna Lie

On May 31, 2014, in Crazy Stuff, First Set, Second Set, by Jennifer McPherson

I am not going to lie, our trampoline has literally provided hours and hours and hours of fun for my kids. Beau practices her cheer moves and Knight and Ann Marie have spent more time jumping on the tramp (insert joke here) than all of the toys I have purchased for them over their lifetime combined.  Girl Jumping On Trampoline

Of course, one of the more exciting and fun tricks to do on the tramp is to time your jump just right and send your buddies flying. Launching tiny bodies to unbelievable heights!

Until…

Someone is launched and lands just right, or maybe I should say the wrong way on their ankle and breaks it.

Ann Marie broke her ankle last week on the tramp, that bitch (not Ann Marie sillies, the Tramp). The first 2 days were terrible.  She had a temporary splint on until the swelling went down. Not a happy camper.  The hours of periodic crying people…. It was not good. Once she got the cast on she returned to activity and had a hole on the bottom of her cast on day 3.  She is perfectly fine now.

Sadly, the Tramp era has ended for us. We debated for hours about getting rid of the best purchase we ever made.  What are the chances of that happening again, really?  Well, actually – A LOT. Check out this article, more than 1 million trampoline related ER visits between 2002 and 2011. Not to mention the cost of the injury.  I haven’t got the bill yet but I already know I am not going to like paying for it.Child with cast on ankle

We purchased the net and all the safety features to ensure our kids would not go sailing off on their head. But what I really did not know was how many small children fracture their ankles because of the fact their little bodies are not made to jump so high. The impact alone (as we found out) can snap their little bones.

Our next project – building a bubble wrapped house for the kids.  OK, not really.  But I cannot endure seeing Ann Marie or any of my kiddos writhing in pain ever again.  I will avoid that one like the plague.

 

Have You Tried Cock and Bull Ginger Beer?

On May 19, 2014, in Crazy Stuff, Mom, Second Set, by Jennifer McPherson

Bottle of ginger beerThere is such a thing….  Beau really LOVES ginger beer and asked if we could buy some.  Have you ever tried ginger beer? I can tell you I want to drink it as much as I wanted to drink that NASTY thick mega sweet orange gunk they made you drink while pregnant to test for gestational diabetes.  Yep, it’s that good!

So the hubby goes to the wine store where they carry about 30 different flavors of ginger beer.  Of the 30 varieties, he picks the Cock and Bull Ginger Beer.  Odd right?  Well, here is the back story.  Beau now has a boyfriend. He is her first boyfriend, is a super sweet kid and she is 17, pretty good considering her age… she is practically an old spinster for modern American standards.   Hubby loves to do everything in his power to assert his dad protection and embarrassment (although I think Beau is not usually embarrassed, for her it is more like, ‘see what I have to put up with regularly’).  Beau’s boyfriend was coming over for dinner tonight, what a perfect time to bring out the Cock and Bull Ginger Beer!  I can barely say the name alone without snickering (I do not claim to be mature people), let alone say it to a teen just to see the expression on their face and then claim innocents like… what? why are you laughing? I know, we are weirdo parents.  It could be worse right?

And in other news…

If I was to pray for ridiculousness tonight it would be:

Dear Lord Jesus,

Can you make a day of parent/child reversal so I can give my kids a little payback now instead of waiting until they have children of their own?

And, when my 5 year old sticks her tongue out at me can you back me up for just a few hours and make it stay that way for a little while?

And finally, Is there a way when the children go to bed that I can stay awake for more than 5 seconds when I start reading a book?

And, Amen

 

Why I want to Write for Portlandia

On April 30, 2014, in Crazy Stuff, by Jennifer McPherson

Reasons I want to write for Portlandia:

1.   Anyone who knows me understands that every episode of Portlandia could have come directly from my brain.

2.  Every single day I see things and instantly think – DUDE –  that could be a Portlandia episode.

3.  I worked in Olympia, Washington, which is like Portland lite.

4.  I lived in Poulsbo, Washington which was right across the bridge from Bainbridge Island which is like Portland lite with wealth.

5.  I currently live a few miles west of Boulder, Colorado which is identical to Portland but without the rain and with legal Marijuana.

6.  Since I lived in Washington State most of my life, I HAVE been the people in the “patch of light” as seen in this episode of Portlandia.

My first two episodes would be:

Aerial Dance Hippies. Fred and Carrie are hippy lovers who express themselves by wearing a full body unitards while aerial dancing. In this episode they clumsily experiment with various unique poses.  They have a distorted visual of themselves as they wrap themselves inside the aerial apparatus (much like a preschooler imitating a ballet dancer, inside their head they are fabulous), eventually becoming completely entrapped.

Husbands Purses. Carrie is a fashion designer who creates a strap which goes over her shoulder to carry her husband as a purse. As she walks around town with her husband purse ladies stop her at every turn to find out where they can get a husband purse.  Carrie goes into a store and purchases some clothing, when paying her husband purse hands her his wallet.

The endless episodes that play every day inside my brain, makes for pretty awesome free entertainment.

 

 

Yeah, That was Completely Unexpected

On April 25, 2014, in Crazy Stuff, by Jennifer McPherson

Dog looking at ownerWhen I left my house this morning it was a complete disaster.  I don’t mean there were a few toys laying around and a couple of shoes out of place.  By disaster I mean there were dishes stacked, floors that were in desperate need of attention, and children’s toys and clothing strewn around all levels of the house. A bomb went off in my house and everyone survived, with the exception of  household clutter everywhere.

No time for cleaning however.  Kids needed to be at school and I had lots of other important out and about things to do.

I left home at 7AM and returned at 4PM.  As I opened my garage door I suddenly remember the utter disaster that lie before me. Wishing with all my might the mess I left this morning was merely a figment of my imagination, I reluctantly entered.

As I walk through the door a fresh clean scent overcomes me.  I round the corner into the kitchen and nearly faint.  Spotless!  Every counter was bare and clean. Sparkles caught my eye as my hands glided softly over the freshly sealed granite. Beyond the kitchen where the toy explosion and dirty laundry once lay, my hardwood floors were visibly cleaned and waxed.  I have not seen the floors so pristine since we originally bought the house a few years ago.  I walk through every room of my house completely dumbfounded.  Every carpet was vacuumed, every bathroom scoured.  The toothpaste that was cemented on the counter as though it was now a permanent fixture was GONE.

WHAT happened?  Who do I owe this remarkable welcome home to?  I turned the corner to my bedroom and there I saw the finishing touches on my toilet were being finalized.  Standing over the bowl on hind legs, with an apron tied around his waste, a spray bottle in one hand and scrubber brush in the other, was Locke, my 2 year old Beagle-Kelpie mix.

Yeah, that was not expected.

Literally this morning I was saying to myself, I wish my pets would clean my house.  They laze around all day long and we wait on them hand and foot.  There seems to be something wrong with this picture. And low and behold, not only does Locke have the ability to clean my house but he also has ESP.  Who knew!

What is Your Parenting Style?

On April 21, 2014, in First Set, Mom, by Jennifer McPherson

text message between mother and daughterParenting and personality traits go hand in hand for the most part.  For example, I tend to parent with humor most of the time. Unless of course my child has intentionally pushed my button too many times, then I use the Mom’s gone gorilla mad, wildly waving her hands, jumping up and down, and screaming parenting style.

For me, humor works, but there are moments when I need to access the time to be uncomfortable and get serious parenting style.  Last week I was talking (via text message, of course) about the “B” word (boys) with my teenage daughter. After giving my two cents on this topic she sent me the following text:

“Is your goal to always say the most awkward and uncomfortable things to me?”

 

My Response: “No…. My goal is to parent you even when it’s awkward and uncomfortable…”

I didn’t think much about my response initially, but the more I thought about those words the deeper my sense of importance as her mother became. We are bombarded in advertising and television with images of mothers and daughters being best of friends. I admit, I have fantasied about shopping with my teenage daughter ever since she was a baby. Trust me people, an impossible reality.

But the harsh lesson is that I am not her best friend.  I am her best ally.  I am the one who will lay down my life for her without a second thought. I am leading her even when she does not want to be led.  I am the one who will say to her the awkward and uncomfortable things she never wants to hear, because I love her and when I signed up to be a mother, it included standing up for her even when she says she doesn’t want me to.

Parenting is hard, the toughest job I have ever had and ever will have. In a matter of seconds you will go from being loved to being hated (sensitive moms, NO, your kids don’t really hate you).  The more kids you have the higher the chance that at any given time, one of your little ones will always be mad at you, for what you said, did, didn’t do, the way you look, the way you smell, the dinner you made, the stupid rules you make, or because they wanted you to button their shirt a different way. The list is never ending.

Parenting styles and how you react can make all the difference in the world (ahem, especially to you Mom).  Just remember when things get uncomfortable, do not avoid but confront those awkward and uncomfortable moments with confidence and truth, because this IS what you signed up for when you became a mother.

How do you handle uncomfortable moments with your children? What style have you found works the best or doesn’t work at all?