Mom Mom Bo Bomb Bananafana Fo Fomm [Things]

You are keenly aware of the fact that your four year old will feign tummy aches at dinner time if she doesn't feel like eating.  The scary part is that she's so convincing you are inclined to believe her.  So you've come up with a fail-proof test.  You offer her candy instead of dinner.  If she accepts after an instantaneous recovery, she was faking it.  (9 times out of 10.)

You get to relive all of your own childhood fears through your own kids.  Like being afraid that Tacky Day is actually tomorrow not today, and he'll be the only one at school dressed like this:

You check with other experienced parents to see if any of their kids have had the belly-button fetish and are relieved to find out many of them did.  PHEW.  Leave it to Sarah to have that "weird kid thing".  See...?

You finally discovered an animal that you are not terrified to let your children be around.

But you're a little glad even those rabbits are in a cage. (What is wrong with me?  Really.)

After years of picking on her big brother, you finally see your middle daughter get some payback - in the form of being tackled by her toddler-aged sister.  (And you kind of like it.)

After three years of rejecting your son's unceasing desire to be the Red Power Ranger for Halloween, you finally succumbed....only to find a box of muscle-clad Red Power Ranger costumes at the back of the costume store on clearance...for FIVE DOLLARS.  (Nice find, Sam!)  See...waiting paid off!

For a fleeting moment, you consider convincing the girls to be Red Rangers too.  (All because you're that cheap.)

Since seeing Toy Story, your four year old goes around saying, "Into the city!  And beyond!"  And you don't bother correcting her because, well, that's funny.

You are happy that your son is secure enough in his masculinity to take on his nay-saying friends when they ridicule him for watching Care Bear, Barbie, and Polly Pocket movies.  (But, you're pretty sure he would watch anything if it got him some more tv time.)

You have become adept at listening to two children talk at the same time, but you don't have confidence in your ability to master the art of discerning three different conversations when your toddler's talking kicks into full gear.


Prepare for the Worst

I am an avowed realist.  This means that I tend to expect that Murphy's Law will apply to any and all situations and that if I keep my expectations low, more often than not, I will end up pleasantly surprised.

In my twenty-seven years thus far, this mindset has proven to work for me.

It's not exactly optimistic, I realize.

You may have read that my PE exam is coming up this Friday once or twice (or 637 times).  Since it seemed appropriate to do so, I finally read the portion of my review manual entitled, "What to Do a Few Days Before the Exam".

The suggestions seem exhaustive from checking tires pressure on the car, making childcare arrangements, planning alternate roots to the testing facility, to packing a wire coat hanger in the bookbag in case you should need to break into your own car after the test, putting a jeweler's screwdriver with your things in case you need to fix your eyeglasses or calculator midway through the test, and packing pre-unwrapped candies for consumption during the exam.

But it gets better...

The next section is entitled, "Prepare for the Worst".

Apparently, the dude who wrote this manual thinks along the same lines as me.  Maybe it's an engineer thing.

I'm not going to type all of the examples out, but I will reiterate a few of my favorites.
Imagine a Star Trek convention, square-dancing contest, construction, or auction in the next room.
Imagine a hard folding chair and a table with one short leg.
Imagine not being able to get your lunch out of your car or find a restaurant.
Imagine someone stealing your calculator during lunch.
Imagine a seat where someone nearby chews gum with an open mouth; tapes his pencil or drums her fingers; or wheezes, coughs, and sneezes for eight hours.
Imagine a site without any heat, with poor lighting, or with sunlight streaming directly into your eyes.
~Civil Engineer Reference Manual for the PE Exam, Michael R. Lindeburg, PE 
I read them and laughed.  He saw my realism and raised it to cynicism.  By preparing for the worst, and expecting such, it can only be better than our greatest fears.  Right?!

This is why I maintain my expectation to fail.  Does that mean I won't work my hardest at it?  No.  But it means that by expecting notification that I didn't pass sometime around Christmas (I know, right?), I will be oh-so-very pleasantly surprised if I do.  And hopefully no more disappointed in the event that I don't.

In the meantime, I think I've picked myself up a new mantra, "Preparing for the worst."  (wink, wink)

Does this method of thinking work for you?


Flashback Friday - The weight of the world lifting off my shoulders

Something happened to me after I graduated from high school.

Obviously, I went off to college, but the transformation was of a deep, mental variety, not just a geographical displacement.

In high school, I was the smart kid.  I don't know exactly what people thought of me, but here's my guess - I was the goody-goody who was too scared to break a rule, who didn't have to study but still aced all of her tests, who would sooner die than come in second place...at anything.

That's all well and good, and truth be told, it gave me a little bit of an ego.

And then...I went off to college.  And I wasn't the automatic best and brightest.  I was one of many hand-selected students at a prestigious private university, most of whom were much more talented and smarter than I could ever dream of being.

I have to tell you, realizing that was, hands-down, the most humbling experience of my life.

The next-most humbling experience was figuring out that after skating through my first 13 years of school, I was going to have to learn how to study.  Or I was not going to succeed.  It was as simple as that.

I developed a completely and totally irrational fear of tests after bombing a few that freshman year.  I could have studied and studied, but when I would sit down to take the exam, my mind would go blank.  I would literally sit at my desk fighting back tears as the minutes ticked by and I frantically tried to remember anything that I could put down on the paper.

I eventually got over the gripping fear and was able to keep control of my faculties while testing, but the nerves remained.  And it's something that, to this day, I'm still not over.  It's the reason that when I see the word "quiz" in a magazine my heart skips a couple of beats.  It's why when I take an eye exam at the doctor's office, I get a little pit in my stomach.  It's certifiable - I suffer from "test anxiety".

It probably goes without saying that college was an uphill battle for me.  

The story gets better though.

After four grueling years of engineering school, there are two rites of passage that each student must hurtle through to get to graduation.  One of them is the Senior Design Project.  I was blessed enough to be on a team with my husband.  Sparing you the majority of the boring details, we worked on a project for a residential greywater reuse system at one of my professor's homes.  Sam did the electrical "stuff" and I did the environmental "things".   (I feel obligated to mention that there was a third teammate involved in there too).  The process takes the entire year to complete, each semester culminating with the submission of a written document and presentation of our results to a group of professors who would inevitably inundate us with questions that, God-willing, we would be able to answer because we'd done our research thoroughly.  Peers were welcome to come to the presentation as well, and some of those jokers asked questions that were harder than the professor's.  (And when that happened you took note of who they were, looked up their presentation time, and vowed to pay them back with hard questions of your own.)  From what I understand, it's a lot like the process of presenting your thesis for a doctorate degree.  Grueling, brutal, sickness-inciting.  

The week before Thanksgiving in 2005, we made the final presentation to a group of professors late on a Friday afternoon.  We breezed through the slideshow.  The professors asked questions.  We, miraculously, had an answer for every single one.  There was a back-handed compliment offered by one of our advisors.  We graciously accepted.  And for as long as it took us to prepare for that 30 minute exercise, it was over in the blink of an eye.  I remember packing up my things, walking down the stairs of the engineering building, and getting to the car in a total haze.  We drove the 15 interstate miles to pick Ben up from daycare, and found ourselves standing in line for a table at Longhorn Steakhouse at dinner time on a Friday.  Ordinarily, we wouldn't have dreamed of waiting with a two year old, but we had just finished our senior design project.  

And even better - we nailed it.  

I can't name many other times in my life that I have been that freed from the chains of stress.  But in an instant, the moment we walked out of the presentation room, I was like a new woman.  It was as if the weight of the previous entire year had just vanished.  All that time I had spent worrying just disappeared.  And I was free.

The other rite of passage is to take the Fundamentals of Engineering exam as a first step towards becoming a professional engineer.  The exam is a rigorous test of your comprehensive engineering knowledge.  I took the exam on a Saturday in April, which just so happened to be the first gorgeous spring day we'd had all season.  Long story short, it was eight hours of strenuous mental torture.  I left at the end of the day never wanting to look at a calculator again in my life.  (And that's a big deal for me, folks.)  If I didn't know better, I might have even been drooling a little bit.  That's how fried my brain was.  

Sam and I went home to our little house and sat on the backyard swing, watching Ben romp around in the yard for hours.  I don't think we spoke the entire time.  It was mental exhaustion of epic proportions.  But you know what?  Mixed in with the exhaustion was a familar sense of relief.  

I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I hadn't passed the exam.  There was just no way.  But it didn't matter so much, I was just relieved to have it behind me.

And yet...two months later, Sam and I both received letters indicating that we'd passed.  I'm pretty sure I cried tears of happiness.

One week from today, I will be taking the final step towards licensure.  I will be taking the Professional Engineer Exam.  I have been studying like I taught myself how to study early in college for the first time in at least five years.  I have been getting up early with my dear husband so I can sit at the kitchen table before the sun even comes up with my cup of coffee and work practice problem after practice problem.  I have been whittling away at the nerves.  It might be helping, and it might not.  But one week from today, I will be sitting at a table solving problems about hydraulic jump, stopping distances, and runoff coefficients, and feeling my brain turn to goo.

If you would, pray for me.

To be honest, I'm looking forward to it.  Not so much the brain turning to goo, but the relief I just know I will feel when it's over.

Jennie + October 29th at 6pm = Complete and Total Freedom

And that, friends, is the most boring Flashback Friday ever.

Thanks for reading!  You are a blessing to me!  I hope you have an absolutely wonderful weekend.


Afternoon Chocolate

Almost as much as I enjoy a cup of coffee first thing in the morning, I like to treat myself to a single piece of chocolate every day around 2pm.  I could call it dessert, but it's long enough after lunch that it feels like some sort of forbidden indulgence.  And I so look forward to it.  (Yes.  Every single day.  Don't tell my boot camp instructor.)

It doesn't matter much to me what form it comes in, be it a Hershey kiss, a Dove promise, a piece of candy more than a few months old that one of the kids got at school and I salvaged from under the seats of the van...I'm not picky.  The other day, I pulled out a solitary Hershey bliss for my afternoon treat.  I carefully unwrapped the goody pondering how many bites I could possibly get out of the tiny square of chocolate.

I threw the foil wrapper away and glanced at the chocolate.  It didn't require close scrutiny to notice something wasn't right.

What you see there are the unmistakable, tiny bite marks of a seventeen month old who visited my office a few days before and evidently decided to help herself to some of my chocolate stash located in one of the lowest drawers of my desk, perfectly accessible to little people.

I laughed as I remembered prying the candy from her mouth and throwing it back into my desk drawer with a stern "No, no, Sarah!", obviously not taking note of the damage she'd done to it.

My simple pleasure this week is the indulgence in a solitary piece of chocolate in the afternoon.

And apparently, it's Sarah's simple pleasure too.

Enjoy many, many more Simple Pleasures today at Dayle's Simple Pleasure party.

Project Simple Pleasures2


Midweek Fun...for me at least

Even though you know your son has a double dose of the "nerd gene", you still get a little nervous before parent-teacher conferences.

You contemplate a liquid diet for your seven year old, who seems to have forgotten how to chew with his mouth closed.  They can't smack if they drink their corn dogs through a straw....right?

It never fails, when playing school with your four year old, that you are the sole receiver of a "sad face" when it comes time to fill out the day's behavior chart.  It goes something like this, "Daddy gets a happy face.  Sarah gets a happy face.  Ben gets a happy face.  (Turning to look you directly in the eyes) Mommy, you get a sad face."  And you're fairly confident this is but a tiny glimpse of what life will be like for the duration of her tween and teen years - completely unfounded disdain for Mom.

You know with absolute certainty that your four year old will fall out of her chair at least once every meal, completely by accident.  (You're pretty sure she's destined to be the next Molly Shannon.)

A lack of toys in the beach condo is no problem for your toddler, who resorts to trying in swim diapers for entertainment.  It's only a problem when, in a bi-polar instant, she decides she doesn't want to wear them on her leg anymore and can't get them off fast enough.

And in response to the prompt for Working Mommy Wednesday today, "You Know You're Stressed When..."

You barricade yourself in the bathroom for a temporary mommy timeout, which most likely involves a good cry, only to have three small children pounding on the door within nanoseconds of you getting it locked.

You lay your head on the pillow after a completely and utterly exhausting day only to be kept awake by the running to-do list rolling through your mind like the credits on an animated movie.

You consequently keep a piece of paper next to your bedside so that you can free the to-do list from your brain.  The sad part is that it just frees the space previously occupied by those items for new ones to creep up and continue to keep you awake.

While doubling as the office receptionist you answer the phone with "Good morning" around 4pm, "Good afternoon" around 9:30am, and have called way more than your fair share of men "ma'am" and women "sir".

Despite managing to get the kids to school with all of their accouterments including blankets, lunches, homework, jackets, spare clothes, and teacher treats, you weren't even able to remember to bring your own purse to work.  And you're lucky you remembered to change out of your bedroom slippers.  (Or did you?)

Linking up today with:


If you like big egos, raise your hand.

This is going to be one of those posts that I type up and then stare at for a few hours while I debate about whether I should click "Publish Post" or not.  I can just feel it.

The problem is that I like for people to like me.  Even more than that, I like for people to agree with me.  When I say something that might be unpopular, I try excessively hard to say it in such a way that it is palatable even to people who disagree.  It's that tact thing that I care (perhaps too much) about.  I'm no Ann Coulter.  Or Michael Moore.  Or some other personality of your choosing who says shocking things to get people riled up.  They are my exact opposites.  Sometimes I wish I were a little more like them.

Maybe that's why I have this blog.  It's a lot easier to write things than it is to say them.  After all, you can't punch me on a blog.  If you punch something, it'll be your own personal property, be it your keyboard, nearest wall, coffee cup, whatever.  And, well, that's your problem.

Now what the heck was the point of this again?  Hang on while I try to remember.

Oh yes.  Egotism.

I think we can all agree that egotism is one of the most loath-able qualities in a person.  No one likes to hang out with someone who thinks they are better than everyone else, whether the ego is warranted or not.  Maybe they just climbed Mt. Everest and they are feeling pretty darn great.  Sure they just accomplished something amazing and they should feel good about it, but they don't have to put lesser folks down in the process or inflate themselves to godly proportions.  They are still just a man, after all.  A cool one who accomplished something amazing, yes.

Look up egotistical in the thesaurus and you get this:

conceited, egocentric, egoistic, narcissistic, pompous, puffed up, self-absorbed, self-centered, self-important, self-involved, self-seeking, self-serving, selfish, smug, stuck-up, vain, vainglorious

A related search of boastful results in:

arrogant, big-headed, bombastic, cocky, crowing, exultant, full of hot air, hifalutin, hot stuff, know-it-all, loudmouth, on ego trip, pretentious, puffed-up, self-aggrandizing, self-applauding, smart-alecky, snooty, strutting, swaggering, swollen-headed, too big for one's britches, windbag

Do any of those synonyms give you the warm fuzzies?  For me, each of them gives me a little pit in my stomach.  They are the exact opposite of how I hope to be described by posterity.

Now - here's the (perhaps) more shocking part - looking up self-esteem results in:

Definition:  pride
Synonyms:  amour propre, conceit, confidence, dignity, egotism, morale, narcissism, self-assurance, self-content, self-regard, self-respect, self-satisfaction, vanity, worth

Self.  Self.  Self.

See, I'm not so sure there's a huge difference between ego and self-esteem.

Society today tells us that "self-esteem" is one of the most important things to instill in our children.  We need to build them up at all times, put them at the center of our universe, find the good in them even when they've done something wrong (no matter to what degree), give them stickers for doing things they should be doing anyway, give them a trophy for doing nothing more than showing up.  Teachers should stop grading in the traditional manner because an "F" or a "D" or even a "C" might hurt my child's feelings and lower his/her self-esteem.  Sports teams should stop keeping score because being on the losing team might deliver an incapacitating blow to my child's self-worth that will permanently scar him/her later in life.

Well let me tell you what I think about society today.

They've got it all wrong.

I'm not advocating calling kids stupid, locking them in a closet, telling them their dreams can't come true, and suggesting to them that they're not worthy of the food I provide.  

What I am saying is that starting from birth, our children need to know that they are not the only person on this earth that matters.  We are all important.  We are all God's children.  Individually, we are not more special than anyone else.  

When my children grow up, I want them to think of others first.  Before they think of themselves.  I want them to have confidence that comes from years of hard work, failures, and learning experiences.  I don't want them to have an inflated self-worth based solely on Sam and me constantly pumping their heads full of self-esteem-building propaganda.  I do not want my adult children to be labeled as egotistical, self-serving, selfish, and certainly not too big for their britches.  I want them to know that they hold an integral part in this life.  That they are a part of the whole, not the whole themselves.  

If they mess up, that's fine.  There will be a consequence.  And it might be a (gasp!) negative one.  If they succeed, I will celebrate right alongside of them.  

I love my children.  More than I ever imagined possible.  But to center our lives solely around them is a mistake that is not easily undone.  Unfounded exaltation when they are children results in adults who exalt themselves.  And while it might be cute [to some people] to hear a three year old brag about their beauty/brains/athletic ability, it's pretty much never cute to hear a thirty year old doing the same.

Children with excessive self-esteem grow up thinking that the world revolves around them, that they are to be served, not that they are to live a life of service.  They grow to believe that the rules don't apply to them.  That they are exempt from consequences.  That life should be handed to them on a silver platter.  And why shouldn't they?  We, as parents, are not just tolerating this way of thinking, we are the source of it.  We tell them they're better than everyone else, that they're the smartest, fastest, strongest, prettiest.  We don't make them do chores because they're "too worn out" after running from extra-curricular activity to extra-curricular activity, which are all, by the way, centered on them.  We go into debt to buy them the newest toys, the nicest clothes, this week's most-up-and-coming electronic gadget, and all the while they sit back and watch without so much as having to lift a finger.  

And then we're shocked when, at age thirty, they expect the same things without...so much as lifting a finger.


Parents, I implore you, keep your children grounded.  Support them, hug them, encourage them, but do not teach them to put themselves before others or to think that they are automatically superior to their peers.  Let them learn lessons the hard way.  Show them the value of hard work by living it yourselves.  Praise good behavior and don't be afraid to show disdain towards bad behavior.  Let them see the different roles you play, like husband/wife, brother/sister, son/daughter, employee/volunteer, only one of which is their parent.  They can't be taught one thing throughout their childhood (that they are the earth's axis) and expected to act the exact opposite in their adulthood.  

We owe it to them.  

As the loving director of the daycare center where my children go so eloquently put it, 

"God doesn't give us children.  He lends them to us."  

Let's try to do right in the limited time we have with them.  So someday when they have their own children, they can propagate the "mean parenting techniques" we used on them, our oh-so-very-loved children.

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.  Proverbs 22:6

Thank you, Aneesa & Nick, for introducing me to Parenting by the Book, which has been the inspiration for this blog post.


Not-so-Friday Flashback: The Beach in the Fall

I am a traditional fall lover in every possible way.  The colors, the pumpkins, the cool, crisp air.  Hay rides, stocking up on candy, trick-or-treating.  Decorating the house in creepy spiderwebs, walking outside just to take a deep breath of brisk air, baking treats without fear of overheating the house.  These are what fall means to me.

But sometimes in life, you have to shake things up a little bit.  And this year, for a million plus one reasons including but not limited to potential oil spill gunk, travel on the part of Sam's job & VBS, our annual summer beach trip migrated into fall.

And while my long-johns clad northern friends are likely thinking, "How is that even possible?", let me just say,

"Thank you, Florida."

I am a creature of habit in the worst way.  Whether it's environmental or genetic, I can blame it entirely on my father and his parents.  They are the most routine-oriented people I have ever known and likely ever will.  So, when the possibility of us missing our annual beach trip presented itself, I got nervous and jerky.  (Or at least, I got a little sad.)  We have gone to the beautiful gulf coast of Florida every year, at least once sometimes twice, for the past nine years (minus one unbearably hot and pregnant summer of 2003).

As it turns out, the possibility to go came about on Columbus Day weekend.  And even though traditional fall-loving Jennie was having an inner conflict with beach-desiring Jennie, my newly adopted "que sera sera" attitude won out.  And with that, we loaded the van up with the bags, the kids, and most importantly, my newly-repaired sidekick:

I could go into the minutiae, but I'll spare you.  Let's just say, I loved every minute of it minus the part where Sarah screamed for four hours on the same night Sam got a violent stomach bug.  But - at least those things happened at the same time.  Then we moved right forward with our vacation.

I mentioned I'm a creature of habit, right?

Well here's a summary of the trip, complete with previous year's flashback photos in similar positions - because apparently I'm just hokey/unoriginal/lame enough to take pictures in the same exact spots with the kids every.single.year.

It's fun to see how they have grown over the years, right?

And it's fun to see that some things never change.  Like how Abby will never be happy about wearing that captain's hat and steering a dolphin cruise boat.

And how it's pretty much impossible to ask three kids to sit still and look at the camera in the middle of a playground...

And there's the precious big brother who navigates his little sisters through the fountains year after year...(sometimes in the same faded bathing suit from the year before)

I captured Ben's bodacious booty in 2010...

Whereas in 2008, I was able to capture his sweet face.

2010 afforded me the opportunity to snap these beautiful blue eyes that tell of an oh-so-mischievous grin that you don't even have to see to imagine.

Then, living in the present, I snapped a shot of Ben that made me pause.  Those are the shoulders of a boy.  My first born is not a baby anymore.  Far from it.

And any fears he previously had of the water are a distant memory for him, as he spent 90% of his time on the beach on that boogie board - wiping out and trying again.

And just as quickly as my first born seemed to grow up, my spirited Abby has turned into a little girl who, ironically, puts safety first - all decked out in life jacket & ring in six inches of water.  But check out that vertical.

See what I mean though?  She might as well be a teenager, right?

And although it was her third trip to the beach, Sarah was finally mobile enough to do something other than sleep through the sand and surf.  She occupied herself by stealing the sand buckets, chasing sandpipers, and running recklessly into the water (not unlike her big sister when she was this age).

I could have just summed it all up with this picture - 

Or this one - (just ignore the drool stain on my arm, please & thank you)

Because I live for these trips.  And this family.  And the man behind the camera.

I will repeat it again ~

Thank you, Florida, for renewing my spirit this October.  And for providing me with memories as precious as your white sands and emerald waters.

And God-willing, here's to many, many more trips to your beautiful shores.


The Whole Lot of Us

It's been one of those weeks.  It started out on the powder-white sands of Destin, Florida - almost Utopia.  And now I'm home, studying like a madwoman for the biggest exam of my life, stressing over how many more days I'll be gainfully employed, and just this afternoon - back from the dentist with not one, but TWO cavities.  If that's not bad news, I don't know what is.  (Okay, there are actually a lot worse things.  That might be slightly dramatic.)

I find myself repeating Matthew 6:34 over and over again, "Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own", though the words don't seem to be sinking in.  Maybe my heart isn't listening to what my brain is saying.

In an in-between moment, I stopped to look at the pictures we took last weekend at the beach, and I was elated to stumble upon one I didn't remember taking.

For obvious reasons.

A woman on the boat with us told me to sit down and join the rest of my family so she could take our picture.  I tried to protest, but she insisted.  And now, we're blessed with a rare but treasured picture of all of us together.  (Even if Sarah is hitting Ben in the head.  I guess toddlers do these things.)

And the simple offer that brought about this piece of family history incited a smile this morning, in the midst of one of the more stressful seasons of my life.  I needed that little smile more than words can say.

Now I just need to remember the recipe for peace-
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. ~Philippians 4:6
And to the woman who took our picture, thank you.  You were a blessing in more ways than one to me this week.

My simple pleasure this week is a tie - between the kind insistence of a stranger and the treasure she captured with a snapshot of our entire family.

I promise next week, I won't be quite so stressed out.  Or maybe two weeks.  Or maybe October 29th around 5pm exactly.

Until then...read more Simple Pleasures with Dayle at A Collection of This & That.


Mom Things: Back from a mini-cation

While packing up to leave your vacation condo, you notice that you still have half a gallon of milk left in the fridge.  So as not to waste the precious commodity, you are able to salvage nearly all of it by filling up the stash of sippy cups you brought and fitting them into the cooler where an entire gallon of milk couldn't possibly have fit.

You subsequently brought one of those sippy cups of milk to work to use on your morning cereal.  And only realized it was weird when your boss asked you about the hot pink plastic cup sitting on your desk.

You consider going into the sand smuggling business after you put your baby in a bathing suit and take them to the beach.  They can stash at least their entire weight's worth of sand in their hiney alone.  Double it if you include the sand they manage to get in their scalp.

Forget waves and sandcastles, terrorizing chasing seagulls and sandpipers is the most entertaining part of a beach vacation...for your toddler, anyway.

You decide, in a glass is half-full kind of way, that if your toddler is going to be up all night screaming and your husband is going to be up all night throwing up, it's best that those two events happened on the same evening.  Thank you, power of positive thinking.

You love the little freckles on your kids's noses made possible by some good, long hours in the sunshine (with plenty of sunblock, don't worry).  (Feel free to click to enlarge and see for yourself.)

You feared a tiny bit for your son's fingers during a seagull feeding adventure, but he seemed to love it.  It might have been worth a nipped finger nub.

You have washed an entire load of exclusively pink (or blue) laundry.

One of your favorite hobbies is watching all of the first time (and some not-so-first-time) parents hover over their kids on the playground.  Last time, you literally saw a dad sprinting to catch his kid at the bottom of a three foot slide.  It was great.

More than half of the beach towels you use for your kids have hoods in the shape of some cute little character...among those in the collection; a frog, a lion, a princess, a bunny, and what can only be described as an alien.

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