Thursday, January 24, 2013

Don't look...and other choice "Dizzy-isms"

I was going to write a different blog about Elizabeth tonight.  After having her first Occupational Therapy visit and starting to see the "warning signs" of some of her sensory issues in hindsight, I was going to write about how scary, beautiful, frustrating, funny, heartbreaking and uplifting it can be.  But I decided to write on a lighter note after laughing with Mike about what a funny little adventure she is becoming.

"DON'T LOOK" - This is a new favorite saying of hers.  But unfortunately, this phrase also strikes fear into the hearts of her parents because the literal translation of this phrase is "I'm doing something I know you don't want me to do and I'd rather not be caught."  She hasn't yet grasped that she has tipped us off to her most recent crime spree and that we will INDEED LOOK  at what she has done.

It started out small.  We'd be at the table and I'd tell her to use her fork instead of her fingers and she would announce "don't look at me" and then pick up a piece of food with her fingers.  It has escalated though.  Particularly when it comes to messes or "wrapping."

Elizabeth has become obsessed with what she calls "wrapping" (not to be confused with rapping - she does not imagine herself to be the a female equivalent of the Beastie Boys or Run DMC.  And yes, I know I just aged myself).  She loves to play with ribbons, shoelaces, thread, Slinkies, belts, etc. and wraps them all around other objects or in between multiple objects.  She creates "spider webs" or "gates" or god-knows-what else that eventually I or the dogs get entangled in.  And, fearing the danger of someone getting seriously hurt and already seeing too many ruined Slinkies and yo-yo strings, I've forbidden her from "wrapping".

The other day, as I finished breakfast dishes and realized my little angel was not, in fact, completing her puzzle as I instructed, I turned away from the sink calling her name in time to see her rush out of my bedroom, slam the door and HOLD IT CLOSED.  Then she said, "Don't look in your room mommy."  As you can imagine, I was instantly terrified.  Was my make-up all over the walls?  Had she wrapped up the dog?  Had she emptied an ENTIRE roll of toilet paper into the toilet (Don't laugh, she's actually achieved this last feat and not while wiping.  Just for fun). As it turns out, she had done some "wrapping" with shoelaces that were still attached to my shoes so I had to spend about 15 minutes untangling a rather impressive array of knots that she'd invented to bind together 5 shoes.

"Dizzy..." I warned.
"I told you not to look," she replied, as though that horrendous tangle would magically disappear if I never looked.

And then recently I had set out food coloring and Dixie cups for some "science time" with her and her friend Jack for their "school time" and after disappearing long enough only to put some food in Yukon's bowl I see her jump down from a stool, rush toward our powder room yelling, "don't look at me mommy!!" and then I hear her turn on the water.  I knew EXACTLY what she had done.  She had touched the food coloring bottle literally SECONDS after I said not to.  I came into the powder room (much to her disappointment) in time to see her scrubbing frantically while going through our foaming soap at an alarming rate in order to de-yellow her little hands.  It's with a bit of evil glee I noticed that, by bedtime, there was still a little yellow on her hands and it frustrated her to no end.  Live and learn, little devil.  Live. And. Learn.

Later the same night, as I was getting the kids ready for bed, she DASHED into her brother's room (she always sleeps there) and shoved something under the covers.  The look on her face and her WIDE green eyes made me laugh and I asked, "whatcha doin?".  She replied, "I was hiding it, don't look".  Turns out, she had bitten a corner out of a piece of paper and we have been trying to get her to STOP chewing on/biting/eating other items.  However, thanks to our Occupational Therapy visit, I did not get angry, but rather gave her something healthier to chew on... I'll elaborate on this in another blog.

"YOU HURT MY FEELINGS!!!!"  - the exclamation points are because this is ALWAYS shouted in the middle of one of her tantrums and is never said in that heartbreaking, accompanied-by-puppy-dog-eyes, tearful voice one would imagine a little girl like my daughter would employ for appropriate guilt tripping.

This tactic, however, is still rather admirable even in the face of her not realizing maximum effect could be achieved with a softer voice because, like any good manipulator, she uses it to try to shift blame to the offendee and away from herself (the offender).

For example, we will be at the dinner table and I will tell her for what feels like the thousandth time, "Dizzy, DO NOT play with your food!"  She made the bad decision the other day of spitting at me in retort.  I IMMEDIATELY removed her from the table and instructed her to go upstairs to her room in search of her manners as she had obviously left them up there during nap time.  She collapsed in a heap at the bottom of the stairs, refusing to go up and screaming, 'YOU HURT MY FEELINGS!!!!!!"  When I asked her how, she said, "YOU WON'T LET ME SIT AT THE TABLE!!!!!"  I reminded her that she was welcome to sit at the table upon rediscovering her manners, but it was too late.  She was wounded, insulted and inconsolable.  I walked away and let her melt into her puddle of tantrum.  She eventually returned to the table and apologized.  Not well, but we'll work on that.

The YOU-HURT-MY-FEELINGS turn the tables routine is Elizabeth's favorite weapon with her Father.  She is in that stage where she's particularly attached to me as we spend most of the day together.  So she will often tell him to get away from her or that she does not want his hugs, only mommy's.  One day, in particular, she learned just what an error this is.  It was my turn to clean up dinner while Daddy handled bath, stories and bedtime.  Well, she began yelling and screaming that she did not want him to give her a bath, she did not want him with her, etc.  So he informed her that she could give herself her own bath, she had lost her bedtime story and he would not be tucking her in.  Of course, she realized then, that Dad was serious and that now she was story-less and that Daddy is funny and fun at bedtime and she had ruined it all.  She ran downstairs shouting "YOU HURT MY FEELINGS!!!!" over her shoulder at her Dad and then found me and whimpered "Daddy hurt my feelings" into my shoulder.  When I pointed out that perhaps she hurt Daddy's feelings by pushing him away and screaming at him and that she owed him an apology and I WOULD NOT be reading her a story, she then ran away from me crying "YOU HURT MY FEELINGS TOO!!!!!".

I'm starting to think the literal translation of "you hurt my feelings" is "you disciplined me and I don't like it."

DON'T LAUGH AT ME!! - This last one is also accompanied by exclamation points because it is never said quietly, but rather as she dissolves into what can only be called melodramatic, teary, tantrum-laden histrionics at the table.

You parents know... sometimes your kids do something so damn cute, that it makes you laugh with joy.  Dizzy does this often.  She often unintentionally makes the most keen, funny, acerbic, sarcastic, brilliant and true observations and it sends Mike and I into hysterics.  Like when Dad asks her if he's cute and she replies, "No... you're big" or when Ellie (our snotty lab) snots all over the carpet and she says, "Ellie, you're gross... but I love you" or when she re-does Mommy's hair and I ask her if it looked bad before and she replies, "no... just boring."  SHE'S FUNNY.  She's awesome. She's honest.  She's 3-years-old. 'Nuf said. 

The problem is, recently, our joyous laughter as begun to offend her in the worst way.  She bursts into tears and acts as though we're the cool kids making fun of her or something.  She melts down and yells at us "DON'T LAUGH AT ME!!!!!!"  No matter how we try to explain it, no matter how many hugs we give... she's hurt and she takes her time forgiving us.  And the trouble is, her little offended face is also so cute, we laugh again.  It's a vicious cycle really.

So, like I said, I was starting to write about her because we're about to go into a complicated adventure with Occupational Therapy.  I was starting to write about my fears, about dealing with Sensory Issues in small children, about how complicated something as simple as a play date can get with her "issues"... but this seemed like much more fun.  Because no matter what happens with her, she's an original.  She's a smart but a mess, she's funny but sensitive, she's awesome and funny and beautiful and so fitting of that nick name her brother gave her SO long ago - "Dizzy". 

She's too wonderful to heed her warnings - so look, laugh and enjoy her as much as we do and we'll help her not to get her feelings hurt, but to enjoy it just as much.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Long trips made longer...

Yesterday I took my kids up to Portland for a day trip to meet friends at OMSI (Oregon Museum of Science and Industry), enjoy some local eateries and squeeze in some fun before winter vacation ends.  The drive is 2 hours.  Or it's supposed to be. 

We left the house at 11:00 am and returned at 10:00 pm.  That's an 11 hour day.  Only 4 of it (and thus a minority) should have been spent on the road.  SIX-AND-A-HALF hours of it were spent on the road.  This is making me reconsider trying to drive to California with my kiddos.  That's a 14 hour drive... what exactly will that stretch into?

Some of you parents who are well-traveled or skip it altogether (or who have younger children than mine) are now shaking your heads.  "She did something wrong!"  You're saying.  She forgot the tricks and tools that make a car ride go smoothly.  No, no, kids.  I did not.  Truly, I didn't.  So what happened, you ask?  How did we turn this particular mole-hill into a mountain?  Well, we're Plavins.  We make everything a, extra special.

Each kid is belted into their age-appropriate seat.  Elizabeth in that annoying, ridiculously large, 5-point seat belt monstrosity that any child under 40 lbs is supposed to ride in.  She's 38 pounds.  Ugh.  As slowly as she gains weight, she'll be in it FOREVER.  William, my brick of a child, is in his easy to move, light-weight, equipped with cup holders (THANK YOU GOD!) booster.  They each have this lovely lap-table contraption strapped to them so that they have somewhere to eat and game.  They are properly equipped with technology designed for 2 hour drives - William's has video games, Elizabeth's has movies and pre-school games.  They have lovely, new over-the-head headphones on (Star Wars and Hello Kitty) so that mom does not go bat-shit crazy hearing William play FIFA Soccer and Elizabeth watch "Nightmare Before Christmas" while she tries to hear her latest music-mix CD or talk to her own mother on the (hands-free!) cellphone on the way up. 

"I'll just make a quick stop to top-off my gas tank and grab some cash and then we can hit it" I toss over my shoulder to the kids as we back out of the driveway.  Keep in mind the gas station is literally 2 miles down the street.  My top-off SHOULD HAVE been quick...

"I have to go potty," William says juuuuuust as the gas guy takes the pump out because I only needed about 6 gallons.

"Are you SERIOUS?  You just went.  At the house."

"I'm serious mom."

So I park by the convenience store, unbuckle Elizabeth, get them both inside so William can use the bathroom.  Strap them both back in, strap tables on, untangle headphone wires, hand off headphones and technology and zip across to the ATM.  Sigh of relief.  We can go now.  But I need caffeine.  Thank god Starbucks is only 6 minutes away and has a drive thru.  We've purchased the necessary coffee and cocoa since it is FREEZING outside and I'm starting to leave the drive thru when...

"Mom, I don't know what's wrong with me, I need to pee again."

"Shit, William..."

"Mom," interjects Elizabeth, "Don't say shit"

"OH my God!  Let's go inside.  QUICKLY please," I'm trying to keep a level voice.  Unbuckling tables, unbuckling children, rinse repeat.  Ugh.  While William goes to the bathroom, Elizabeth drinks HER ENTIRE COCOA.  Now I'm worried.  But we get back in the car, more buckles, wires, tables and situating and we hit the road. 

We hit the I-5 and I hit the cruise control, call my mom and drink my coffee.  The kids are head-phoned and talking now and then to each other and myself as though they did not have headphones on and we all know exactly what part of what game and movie everyone else is on.  It's kinda funny really.  We've been driving nearly 20 minutes when I see a rest-stop sign. 

"Anyone gotta go to the bathroom?" I joke.  Only, no one's laughing.

"Oh thank God," sighs William.  "Yes!"  Can a child have an enlarged prostate?  Just wondering.

"NO, NOOOOOOOO, I don't have to.  I don't want to try!  I don't want to hear the flush!"  Elizabeth is wailing and we haven't even stopped the car.  She has some aural sensitivity issues.  No tests yet, but really, I think I know.

We get out and I'm assuring her that despite her chugging her ENTIRE cocoa in the 5 minutes we stood in Starbucks, she does not have to try.  The girl can hold it FOREVER.  I decide I'll take advantage of this one stop though, hoping it's the last.  My GOD I can laugh hard at that idea in hindsight.  We're quick, and re-buckling, attaching tables, yada-yada and on the road.  We're now a good 30 minutes behind schedule.

"Oooookay," I say in my best I'm-totally-patient-and-cheerful mom tone, "I'd like to keep going now until it's time to grab a quick DRIVE-THRU lunch so we can just get there."

This is not to be.  We make one more gas-station bathroom stop before finally hitting Taco Bell.  We drive through to "make it quick", but I end up having to park the car briefly to get rid of the Starbucks stuff and help the kids arrange their lunches on their tables and their drinks in a fashion that won't turn the back of my car into sugar-goo from spills.   We're now an hour behind where I wanted to be.  But they eat, drink, start playing again and we're FINALLY getting there.  We're 5 exits away when...


"Dude!  William, can you make it 5 exits?"

"I think so Mom"

"Okay, otherwise, you're a dude.  Pee in a cup."  I'm not unsympathetic.  Really, I'm not.  It's just that we've reached the part of the freeway in Portland where it suddenly shoots off vein-like in a million different forks and over/underpasses, that I cannot FATHOM getting off to find a suitable potty stop and ever finding my way back to the correct on-ramp, bridge, highway, you name it.

We make it to OMSI and William has to go so badly that, thankful that we are in far-away "overflow" parking, he just pees by a tree and we head in.  HOLY CRAP.  By the way, Elizabeth finally goes to the bathroom once we're in OMSI.  She hasn't gone since we left home over 3 hours, 1 cocoa, 1 soda and a lunch ago.  Don't tell me it's the chicks who have small bladders.

OMSI is awesome.  The kids are awesome.  I'm having a great day.  We eat dinner at this kick-ass roadside place called Grilled Cheese Grill where you order at the stand but then eat in a school bus.  The kids LOVE it.  We eat very unique, VERY Portland, hand-packed ice cream at another place called Salt and Straw before we hit the road.  It's only 6:30 when I tell my hubby we're on our way home.  Knowing I'm travelling with kids, my hubby says, "See you at 9:00"   Again, I can laugh now.

I make William use the bathroom TWICE at Salt and Straw before we leave.  I have Elizabeth go once (after convincing her this is a small quiet toilet and there's no need to fear it).  I get them strapped in, no tables this time.  William's Play Station Vita is out of juice so I inform them it's movie time, they have to share my iPad now.  Surprisingly, they agree instantly on a movie.  I take it as a good sign.  My mistake.

"BUB-BAAAAAA," Dizzy is saying his name in her special I'm-pissed-at-William inflection, "I wanna hold the iPad!"

"No, Diz, then I can't see it.  If i put it here, we can both see it."  But it's between their seats and they're both having to crane their necks downward to see it. I'm navigating the ridiculous criss-crossing arteries of Portland freeway again after nearly missing my on ramp, so I can't help until I hit a straight patch.  When I finally do I have William hand me up the iPad and I prop it up using a sweatshirt on my center console so it's facing them like a movie screen.

"There," I sigh, "now it's up and you can both see it."

"But Mom," William whines, "what if it falls."

"It won't"


"William, I swear to God..."

We make it about 20 minutes south to the suburb where my in-laws live because it's familiar to me and I know I can find the Starbucks to dose myself with more caffeine and because Elizabeth is dying for water.  I navigate the streets to the strip mall with the Starbucks. I pull into the parking lot and look at the sign next to the door and it says it closes at 7:00.  I look at my car clock in time to see it click from 6:59 to 7:00.

"You've gotta be f#@!ing kidding me," I mutter to myself.

"Mom, you said f#@!..." Elizabeth begins.

"E-LIZ-A-BETH," I warn, "I'm SORRY.  I need coffee and I wanted to get you your water."

"Let's go to that McDonald's over there," William chimes in, "We can get juice and I gotta pee..."

"NO WAY!  Are you kidding me?  You have to go again?  Are you shi..." I cut myself off from swearing again, but it's too late.

"Mom, you almost said..."

"Elizabeth!  I KNOW!"

We drive over to the McDonald's and go in.  William pees AGAIN while I get coffee and water.  Strap them in, set up movie, give them waters, situate them as I think sleep will follow soon.  I'm getting tired. Not so tired though that I'm not being overly cautious when the man parked next to me says, "I'll help you, I left my own kids in the car."  I get the kids in quick and get moving.

The MINUTE I hit the I-5 it's like someone dropped a blanket.  Pea soup.  Fog so thick I can barely see more than the few feet in front of me lit by my headlights.

"Crap," I breath


"Elizabeth, I said crap.  Give it a rest.  Poop.  There is that better?"

"What's wro-" William begins and sees the fog, "Oooooh, man! Mom, can you see the fog?" he asks like I've somehow missed that we can barely see another car until it's right next to us.

"Yes, William.  It's ALL I can see.  Please let me focus.  I'll be slowing the car down so I can keep us safe.  The drive is going to take longer now okay?"

"Okay!"  They're both cheerful.  It means more movie time.

We've been driving an hour when I hear snoring.  Elizabeth is passed out.  I should be closer to home, but the fog has made it a horrible drive.  And then it comes.

"Mom, I have to go again."

"Okay William," I'm too tired to be impatient.  Now I just feel for the kid.  "Let me find a stop.  I need somewhere where I can see you go in and watch the car at the same time.  i don't want to wake your sister."  (Who hasn't peed since Salt & Straw, mind you).

We pull into a truck stop/convenience whatever-the-hell-it-is in the middle of rural Nowheresville, Oregon.  The store is perfect though as I can see the entrance to the bathroom from the front doors AND keep watch on the car.  Plus, I need some strong bitter coffee to add to my McDonald's "mocha" (I'm gonna put that in quotes as the sugar content makes me doubt there's any coffee in my mocha).  We ask the clerk for the key as instructed and he informs us someone is in there.  William looks panicked.

"Sorry bud," I say as I stand RIGHT in front of the automatic doors so I can watch the car.  "You gotta wait until they are finished."  But we wait and wait and wait.  He's dancing now and I've forgotten my internal promise to stop swearing.

"What the hell?" I mutter, "Is someone SHOWERING in there?  What on earth is taking so long?"  We've been there 10 minutes.  No joke.  Standing there with a pee-pee dancing 6 year old for 10 minutes.  I'm tired, freezing and watching the car.  I take a sip of the coffee and promptly burn the crap out of my tongue.  Super.

"They have a shower?"  I can't tell if he's excited or surprised by this prospect.

"No... William," I sigh.  Sarcasm is wasted on the young.

After 15 minutes of standing there, the clerk knocks on the door muttering something about perhaps the previous person locked the keys in there, but a voice emerges,

"Occupied still!"

I think William is going to pee on the floor when this woman and her daughters pile out of the rest room in pajamas.  She sees his little dance and sees what must look like murderous disgust on my face and says,

"Oh... sorry.  Had the whole posse in there."  I can't even respond.  I think they WERE washing up and changing in there.

"William, meet me in the car.  I can see you from there." I walk out and get in the car to crank up the heat and be ready for William.  But now I have to pee.  I walk back in and take a turn after he's done asking him to watch the car from inside.

We FINALLY leave the damn truck stop and get back on the freeway.  With Elizabeth asleep it's a bit easier as William can get himself buckled and manage the iPad and headphones by himself.  I add the truck stop black bitterness to the McDonald's sugary crap and it becomes a decent coffee drink.  Back on the freeway, I feel lucky.  The fog gives way to an incredibly clear night and I can speed up again.  Elizabeth is sleeping and William has become engrossed in the movie 'Tron Legacy."  I'm happy when I see signs for Albany, knowing I'm getting closer at last.  But Fate is a fickle bitch.

Fog DROPS in again and I slow WAY down.  I can't see and despite the coffee, it's now 8:30 and I'm tiring from the long day and the effort it takes to focus in the fog.  I'm really tired.  I want to be home.  We pass the Corvallis exits, Millersburg, we're getting closer.  I see signs for Brownsville (fun note, some of "Stand By Me" was filmed there) when it happens again.

"Mom, I hate to say this but..."

"I know, William.  I know.  I have no earthly idea where we are, but I'll find something."

I find another truck stop, but as I stop the car, Elizabeth wakes up.  She's weepy and confused, so I get her all unbuckled and take her in with us.  It's FREEZING and foggy outside, so we rush in.  She starts to freak about the bathroom again when I assure her she doesn't have to try.  William goes and I want to leave when...

"Mom.  I'm really hungry," he says quietly.  I know he's afraid I'll be mad.  I'm too tired to be mad.  I'd say no way, but I have no idea how long it will take to drive home in the pea soup.  I tell them to stay inside while I grab the wallet I left in the car thinking there's no way I need it just for a pee stop.  I walk outside and -

BOOOOOM!!!  I actually duck and crouch to the ground.  I don't know what that sound is.  It's too loud to be a backfire from a car.  It's pretty rural out here.  Kids shooting at cans.  I don't know.  I grab my wallet and run back inside.

"Can I have these chips?" William asks.

"Chips?  Really?  Shit, I don't care."  And I don't.  I. WANT. TO. BE. HOME.  I buy the chips and we head out to the car.  I'm carrying Elizabeth because it's freezing and she's muttering sleepily more to herself than to me,

"Shouldn't say shit..."  Man.  I suck as a mom sometimes.

We're buckling, situating, opening chips and I'm re-arranging the movie player and switching the movie because now Elizabeth is WIDE awake and William has to give up on his Tron movie.  He's way good spirited about it though.  He's even sharing his chips with his sister.

I'm back in the soup.  Craning forward and I see the signs I want to see.  Harrisburg.  Junction City.  Coming up is exit 195B.  Our exit.  I'm trying to be careful because they changed the freeway a little while ago when they built a new overpass.  I miss the exit in the fog.  SHIT.

I take the next one and take a longer route home.  I finally get on our highway, get off on our exit and head down our main cross street, Barger.  The fog is SO thick, I can't make out our intersection (we don't have a light) and I overshoot it.  I back up and turn onto our street and then overhsoot the house too.  I'm going to chalk that up to too tired.

I pull in the garage and Mike opens the door between the garage and house.

"Wow," is his greeting.

Wow indeed. Oh, and Elizabeth did not pee before bed.  She did not pee until she got up again at 8:00 the next morning.  William peed twice more before going to sleep.

Seriously.  Can you have an enlarged prostate at six?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

What I have

New Year's.  I've listened (and watched on FB) as people have posted resolutions, talked parties, outfits, drinking, plans, who to kiss, etc.  I've remembered the CRAZY parties my parents used to throw and some of the ones I attended with friends as I got older.

And then I look at us today. Got up with my kids after a playroom camp-out, lazed around, made breakfast, went off to an Open Gym, went to a friend's party where the most activity I had was to keep my kiddos in check, came home at 10:30 to rescue our dogs from fire works and rang in the New Year quietly on the couch with just 3 people - my husband and two kids. After the ball drop, we all crawled into our huge bed for a bit, giggling and listening to the booms and then put the kids in their own bed.  Now, here I am, writing.

So many people my age are either partying like crazy or bemoaning/laughing at how "old" and tame they are with their quiet New Year.  But here's the thing... I LOVED my New Year.  Loved it.  And I know why.  It's what I have.

I have an amazing husband who has ridden through some beautiful roads and harsh bumps with me for 16 years.  I have a funny, goofy, smart, sensitive son who thinks I'm beautiful enough to pull off the leather pants Taylor Swift was wearing on stage tonight (so he said).  I have a wild, uninhibited, creative, smart daughter who capped the night off with the fabulous quote, "Dad, quit PISSING ME OFF!'  (I keep promising myself I will switch to swearing in Dutch so these "oops" mom moments will taper off).  There is no drink, no party, no outfit, no resolution, no diet, no outfit in the world that can give me more than what I already have.

I'm 8 months and closing from turning 40.  I'm not in the shape I want to be, but I'm getting there.  I'm not the calm mom I want to be, but I'm trying.  I still want to be published.  I still want to run a marathon (or at least a half marathon), but I have an arthritic knee and Osgood-Schlatters in the other knee.  I want to learn to be more socially comfortable.  I want to be a better friend, wife and mother.  But I'm not going to make resolutions about it.  I'm not going to be sad, or wistful, or beat myself up over what I DON'T have. 

Because what I have is amazing.  My life, my husband, my kids, old friends I've connected with and new friends I've found... it's all amazing.  Too many times I forget that and just worry about how to be perfect.  I worry about my failures.  But today of all days, I was able to truly just love what I have, what I've done and where I am.

So I don't have a resolution really.  I just want to keep moving, keep trying, keep growing and keep learning.  I want my life to keep writing its story in lines on my face.  I want to get in shape because it gives me the energy to be with my loved ones... not to look good in pictures, not to look skinny in an outfit, but so that I can practice baseball and football with my son and gymnastics and soccer with my daughter.  I want to be more socially comfortable, not so I can have tons of friends, but so that I might teach my kiddos how to be themselves and reach out to others.  I want to keep going because what I have is too amazing to let pass me by.

Happy 2013 everyone.  Look around at your treasures.  Collect only the ones worth collecting this year.  Don't worry what everyone thinks of you (like I told my son when his buddies commented about his painted nails).  Be crazy, mess up, try again, apologize, grow, do something new, reach out to someone before you're stuck only WISHING you had, and hug people with reckless abandon (like my daughter does).  Life is too short for awkward hugs, popularity contests, regret, and keeping up with the Joneses. Fly your freak flag and love everyone like it's your last day on Earth.  Let your boys paint their nails or wear dresses.  Let your girls have power tools and play tackle football.  Wear your hair, even at 39, in Princess Leia buns like I have for the past two days.  Wear something no one else would just because YOU like it.  Write down your stories, finger paint with your kids, and dance (as my hubby often does) in public places like the super market, without caring what others think.  Dress like a princess if your kid wants you too, even in public.  Make horrible blaster noises and sing in the car because it makes your kid laugh.

Mike, William and Elizabeth.  My 3 biggest treasures.  And so many more than I can name in the form of parents, nieces, nephews, siblings and friends.  Happy New Year.  My 2013 is already full of treasures.