Stuck in a Rut

We watched a lot of the Winter Olympics at our house.

One of my favorites was the Nordic Combined Ski Jump. You know, the giant terrifying mountain of snow that skiers hurtle down at breathtaking speeds? They go faster and faster and faster until all of a sudden they are at the bottom of the jump and then WHOOSH! Out they go. Launched into outer space with nothing under them but air, skis and hard-packed snow.

I noticed that their skis are locked into ruts until they get to the bottom of the hill. 

Hmmm. I suddenly realized that I have something in common with Olympians! No, it’s not the spandex bodysuits. And it’s definitely not the “fantastic athlete” part.   

It’s the rut part. Sometimes it seems like I’ve fallen into the world’s biggest rut.

I am constantly doing the same things over and over (and over) again. Wash the laundry. Dry the laundry. Fold the laundry. Change the sheets. Give the baths. Make the breakfast. Wash the breakfast dishes. Make the lunch. Wash the lunch dishes. Make the dinner. Wash the dinner dishes. Sweep the kitchen floor. Mop the kitchen floor. Let the dog out. Let the dog in. Change the diapers. You know how it is.

Life is going by faster and faster and there is absolutely nothing that I can do to stop it or control it. The gate has been lifted and I am GOING.

(Also, sometimes I feel like a guy in a cartoon that flies smack into a tree.)

I don’t know about you, but I live for the moments when I hit the end of those ruts and am propelled forward out into weightlessness. Those moments – when I twirl my children around in the air as we dance to “Circle of Life” or “Tiny Dancer,” cranked way up high. The spontaneous fits of laughter when someone says something funny, like “Do I need to go get my chop-chop?” Or making up our own song parodies – “If I die young, bury me in breakfast, lay me down on a bed of pancakes…”


I think I got one!

Or a perfect moment full of nothing more than the sight and sound of a belly-laughing, front-toothless 5-year-old.

Or running through the cold February afternoon, chasing snowflakes with our mouths open and our tongues sticking out. Or when a little body hurtles through the air only to throw tiny warm arms around my neck and giggle slobbery kisses onto my cheek.

Those moments happen when I’m not rushing, when I’m not speeding around like a crazy person, trying to get everything done that needs to be done (and a lot of things that really don’t) – in other words, when I’m not in a rut.

I’m not an Olympian. Far from it.

But sometimes, like when we’re twirling around, it almost feels like I can fly.


Who is He?

Today he was a ninja with a plastic sword.

He was a knight with a dragon on his shield. He was a Leaf Man protecting “da woods” with his Hobbit knife. He was a “worker guy” with a hard hat and a hammer. He was a “fixer” with his daddy’s screwdriver. He was a farmer. He was a weasel. He was a musician when he played his Buzz Lightyear “tar” and sang “I’m in da Lord’s Army.”

He was a hunter when he tracked down an imaginary Big Bad Wolf so he could get him with his marshmallow shooter. He was the train conductor of his Thomas the Train table. He was a singer, a cowboy, a football guy; he was an architect with his sister’s wooden marble run.


Sometimes he’s a dinosaur.

He was a dinosaur who tried to eat me, a monster who knocked down his sister’s block tower, a logger with his toy chainsaw, and a chef when we made cookies. He was “da twash man” when he hauled empty cans to the recycle bin in his dump-truck. He was a snow plow-er (at least until he got snow down his neck and came inside crying) and a “cleaner-guy” who cleaned every window and wall he could squirt with his Windex squirter.

Tonight I go to tuck him in under his fuzzy blue blanket. He has one race car sock on and one off. His little pink pinky toe sticks out through the holes in his crocheted blankie. He has on a little motorcycle t-shirt and his cozy red sweatpants. The first 2 fingers of his left hand are in his mouth (as usual.) He has a little scratch under his right eye and he’s in need of a haircut – but he’s still the most beautiful boy I’ve ever seen.

“I want you snuggle me,” he says, and he scootches over in his big boy bed so I can scoot in next to him. “I need Mousie.” I find his little

koala bear beanie baby, aptly named “Mousie,” and tuck it in with him next to his brown “Dino.”

“I want you read my Farmer book.” He puts his little hand on my head and wraps my curly hair around his fingers. He laughs. “Yous hair wooks funny.”

We say prayers together and then I pray, “God, help me to be a good mommy. Help me to do the right things. Help me to teach Jed to be a kind boy; help him learn to obey Mommy and Daddy and to grow into the kind of man You’re proud of. Please protect him and keep him safe.”

“Where God?” he asks. “Watchin’ over me?” “Yep,” I answer.

Then he wants to talk about good guys and bad guys (and Big Bad Wolves.) I tell him that he is a good guy, and when he grows up, he will be a good guy who helps other people because that’s what good guys do. He thinks about that and nods. “Uh huh. Yes. But sometimes we are bad.”

“Yes, we are all bad sometimes, but that’s when we say, sorry. And we say God, please help me be good.” He thinks about that too. “Uh huh. And Mom, sometimes when you not here… when you not here, I talk to God.”

I put my face down in the pillow next to his little head so he won’t worry if he sees my tears. I love him so much it physically hurts. I rub his soft little boy hair and listen to him breathing next to me. My heart aches with thankfulness for this little person who is mine for such a short while. I have to remind myself not to suffocate him by holding on too tight. He’s still so little… but already so big compared to the “baby boy” I sang lullabies to 3 years ago.

He pats me on the back and says, “And I wub you vewy much too, Mom.”

How can someone so small take up my entire heart?

He’s so many things – ninja, dinosaur, chef, cowboy… but he’s always going to be my baby boy.

“I not a baby, mom. I a big boy. But mom, I need you…I need you snuggle me one more time.”

Okay, buddy. One more time.

Who’s Afraid of The Big Bad Wolf?

There’s something about being woken up at 4am by a 3-year-old screaming “Help! HELP! It’s da BIG BAD WOLF!” as he runs into your bedroom that really gets your adrenalin flowing.

In hindsight, maybe The Three Little Pigs wasn’t the best bedtime reading for my little guy. I certainly didn’t mean to scare him. But then again, it’s not like my kids never scare me.

Most of the time they scare me without even trying:

They eat weird things. They pick things up off the floor (wherever we are) and pop them into their mouths.

They stick things up their noses. Peas. Pieces of fuzz. Pebbles. Cotton candy. Things of that nature.  

They run with sticks. They run with scissors. They run through parking lots.

They get high fevers. They get awful coughs. They get choked. They get pneumonia.

They go too close to the fire-pit. They hold sparklers too close to their faces.

They jump too high on the trampoline. They swing like they are aiming for outer space on Killer Death Swings.

They break collar bones. They get weird rashes. They fall flat on their faces and smack their teeth on the floor.

They accidentally poke each other in the eye with drinking straws.

They climb to the tip top of very tall, very wobbly pine trees.

They sled at high speeds. Backwards.

They sit too close to the edge of the lion enclosure at the zoo.

They go entirely too fast on anything that has wheels. And then they fall off –  usually on pavement or near some large, sharp rocks.

They are entirely too willing to explore ominous places in the woods (and turn over logs to pick up any creepy crawlies that they might find there.)

They disappear by the candy machine at the mall.

They twist their little arms behind their backs (Adelaide is double-jointed and can contort herself into some pretty freaky looking positions. When she was a baby her tiny thumb bent completely backwards and I thought it was broken, but pop! she moved it right back the way it was supposed to be.) 

They jump up and down in the wet, slippery bathtub.


This is creepy. I don’t care if it is Cinderella.

They thump so loudly upstairs that I can hear them through the ceiling. They rattle the light fixtures. They fall out of bed. They hit their heads on the ceiling fan. They miss rungs on the bunk bed ladder and crash to the floor.

And then, sometimes, they do it on purpose:

They are entirely too convincing when they tell me that there’s a monster in their room. Just to be on the safe side, I usually close their door, lock it, and take them to my room where it’s clearly less dangerous. Their dad can deal with the monster later.

They hide behind doors just so they can jump out and yell “Boogity-boogity!” at me. They get me about 90% of the time.

And is there anything creepier than seeing the outline of a 3-foot tall, dark shadow with big eyes staring at you from the darkened hallway? Maybe one thing: waking up with a jolt to a face two inches from your own, STARING silently at you while you sleep.

Or they engage in psychological warfare by walking around completely draped in blankets (firmly ingrained ideas of what a ghost supposedly looks like die hard) or in uber-creepy Cinderella masks that show nothing but their creepy little eyeballs.

Once, 9-year-old Sadie stayed quiet and out of sight for 45 whole minutes, patiently waiting for me to get her little brother ready for bed, just so she could REACH OUT FROM UNDER HIS CRIB AND GRAB MY ANKLES. I am still not over it.

And 5-year-old Adelaide’s explanation of a bad dream she’d had: “Mommy, I dreamed that somebody died. I’m not telling who. But just stay in here. Seriously.”

So… who’s afraid of the Big Bad Wolf? Well, Jed is, for one.

And I may also be scared of him, though I will never admit that to Jed.

But honestly, I think my kids might be scarier.