I Can’t Keep the Boogieman Away

As far back as I can remember, I have been a worrier. I don’t know if it’s because I am generally just an anxious person, or because I watched my grandmother ritualistically chant under her breath for my grandfather’s safety every time he left the house. All I know is that I have always worried about my family, their safety, and the unknown. It is emotionally and physically draining to partake in superstitious behavior and dwell on things out of my control for thirty-plus years.

The most difficult part of this side of my personality is that I don’t want to pass this on to my kids. I have to let them jump off of high things and touch worms and NOT. FREAK. OUT. because I want them to be kids and adventurous and just not so afraid.


Overcoming her fear of an ant

And then there’s Gabby. She is so overly cautious. She is clumsy, so I clutch at my pearls every time she does something brave like jump out of the car or climb on the high jungle gym at the playground. But, like I said, let them be kids and all that. So I stifle myself.

Yet, somehow, the kid has become fearful despite all of my stifling. When she was two, she would ask me to come with her to the playroom because she was afraid that Swiper (that dastardly fox from Dora the explorer, for you non-kid owners) was in the front bedroom. She would wake up in the night afraid that a bear was going to get her, despite my frequent reminders that we made sure our house was fox and bear-free when we bought it.

Just this morning, she was happily playing in the living room with her Cinderella castle, and she sent Jasmine into the kitchen in Cinderella’s carriage when we had this exchange:

Gabby: Mommy, can you come with me to get Jasmine?
Me: No, Lilly’s in the kitchen. Just go in there.
Gabby: But I don’t want to be alone!
Me: You won’t be.
Gabby: Mommy? I think there’s a nightmare in there.
Me: Nope, I told you. This house has no nightmares, foxes, or bears.
Gabby: I’m still scared.

I had an immediate flashback of myself in my twenties – hell, maybe even my early thirties – running from the bathroom to my bedroom in the dark. I have always been afraid of the dark, monsters, and ghosts lurking in the night. But I have never once let on to my kids that I have these fears. It’s unnerving to me to see her fears unravel the same way mine did.

At least she has the benefit of my empathy. I know what it’s like to be afraid. She doesn’t know that I’m just as scared as she is. I never had that support growing up.

I just hope that my understanding and patience with her anxiety helps her to outgrow it.

I was lucky enough to find a husband who thinks I’m ridiculous and doesn’t make fun of me for it. There can’t possibly be another person that tolerant in this world.

Between a rock and a hard place

Author’s note: Please know that this post is riddled with hyperbole. That said, all of these terrible decisions were actually made in the span of 48 hours. 

Saturday morning. 

I wake Gabby up for dance at 6:30 so she can eat before we go. As usual, she hardly eats because she’s so excited for dance “wessons,” so I just dress her and hit the road.

Dance was FANTASTIC! All new songs – a complete refresh. The class was packed, so Gabby was semi-crazy with her need to show off, but she was having so much fun I wasn’t mad about it.

After class I check my phone and the hubs made an appointment for the pediatrician to look at Gabby’s skin rash.

A Saturday appointment! I refuse to be late for anything. Too bad the hubs made the appointment for 45 minutes after dance ends (and it is at minimum 30 minutes from home). I took as many shortcuts as I could to get there on time.

I pull into the back entry of the doctors office and immediately realize it was a bad idea. The parking lot behind the building that I normally cut through to get to the front parking lot was a lumpy, dangerous sheet of ice. I should have just backed out and drove around the corner. I didn’t.

Instead, I headed to the narrow passage between the doctor’s office and the abandoned garage next door.

What I saw was not good: It hadn’t been plowed through all the way. There was a bump about 6 inches high of snow across the whole passageway. It was really narrow. I wasn’t sure if I could fit my giant white minivan through it safely. However, this was a Saturday pediatrician appointment and I was NOT going to be late. By this time, it would have been far too unsafe to try to back my way out of the driveway.

I hold my breath and hit the gas.

I wasn’t going anywhere. The ground was ice beneath me and now I am stuck in the snow. I rock the van backwards and forwards. I try turning the wheels in different directions. I try to gun it in reverse. My face is getting hotter and hotter and my heart is racing. What the hell did I do?!?!

We were still not late for the appointment, so I figured the best thing to do would be to at least make the appointment. I try opening my door. No dice. The snow is packed up against the driver’s side of the car. Next-best option: climb over the console and exit the passenger’s door… into a 4-foot high pile of snow. I open Gabby’s door and pull her out, climb over the snow pile (and apparent BUSH I didn’t see in said snow pile), and we go inside.

The receptionist checks us in and before we sit down I causually say, “If anyone is concerned about the van stuck in between the buildings, that would be me. I will get it out of there after the appointment.” The ladies all look at me, then out the window, then back at each other in horror. “Um, ok… Sorry about that. We have some shovels you can borrow,” was her response.

The appointment happens and is mostly a blur, other than the doctor being so apologetic that he offers to meet me outside to see if he can’t help me get the van out of there.

As his waiting room full of patients glares hatefully at me out the window while the doctor futilely tries to free my van from its icy prison, the humiliation just tells him I will call a friend and to please go back inside.

So I text my friends who live right down the street with a request to bring a shovel. This is what they saw upon their arrival:

Failure to launch

Failure to launch.

The barrage of quizzical faces and “how?!?”s that followed were soon met with frantic (yet not very helpful) attempts to free my beastwagon from its almost certain fate to live in this snow pile until the snow melts in June. We could not get it out. Thankfully, K always seems to “know a guy” and within 10 minutes, a tow truck and a very nice man shaking his head at me arrived. He pulled my van out of that snow pile and we all went on our merry (but very embarrassed) ways.

The rest of the day passed without incident.

Sunday. Gabby’s behavior was off-the-charts awful all day, but in her defense she was kind of cooped up. I just remember yelling a lot and crying a lot because I can’t get through to her. I was supposed to go to a baby shower that day (how do you like that foreshadowing???) and was planning on bringing Gabby with me. Needless to say, I wasn’t thrilled. The hubs let her play outside for a while and I was finally able to shower and relax. A while later, they came inside.

“Mama! Wook!” She cried excitedly before she was even in the door. “Mama, I found a wock!” It was a pretty cool rock. It was flat as a penny and triangular. It almost looked like a shark’s tooth. I admired it and brought her inside to warm up.

We settled in on the couch for a bit and suddenly…

Gabby: My rock!
Me: What happened?
Gabby: My rock!
Me: Where is it? did you drop it?
Gabby: It’s in my nose!

I felt around on the outside of her nose. The rock was so flat that I couldn’t push it out from the outside. I grabbed the Hubs’ headlamp and a pair of tweezers and set him to work. No dice. She had pushed it so far up her nose that there was no way we were getting it out ourselves.

Off to the emergency room we drove. With Gabby in the back whimpering and saying, “Maybe it’ll just take five minutes, Mommy,” and me beseeching her to keep her fingers out of her nose. Finally, we arrived… dozens of coloring pages later, we were sent upstairs to the urgent care floor where Gabby was swaddled up like a burrito and the resident used a catheter with a balloon on the end to push the rock out from the inside. Gabby got an ice pop for being so good. I grew sixteen more grey hairs.

I did keep the rock 🙂


Do you wanna build a robot? It doesn’t have to be a robot…

Kids are so lucky – they get to have high-achieving goals with no consideration to the barriers they face to getting there. When I was in sixth grade, I wanted to be an astronaut. I was a part of Young Astronauts, a club where we would learn about space and launch rocket ships after school. There I was: 12 years old, a girl, intelligent (but not that smart), middle class, daughter of a nurse and a postal worker. Now, I don’t know where I’d rank in terms of the probability of me becoming an astronaut. I can tell you that my realist parents would have scoffed at me if I proclaimed my ambitions out loud.

Boy, am I glad that times are changing!

Introducing the KidStarter Campaign. KidStarter is a STEM-based program consisting of apps, online tools, and community-oriented courses that not only teaches kids about science, technology, engineering, and math, but also gives them the opportunity to come up with their own ideas and bring them to fruition. They also plan to partner with fabrication companies to bring these ideas to life on a larger scale. So, it’s not just educational games. This is an opportunity for kids to learn, to build, and to solve problems. They can even do it in the comfort of their own home.

KidStarter logo

I’m so excited about this for my girls that it’s hard to put it into words. At age two, Gabrielle’s imagination is so above and beyond my comprehension. She has ideas all day long about how the world works. She comes up with her own explanations for the most insignificant occurrences in life. After Lillian’s first birthday, we had her cards displayed on a garland for a few weeks. On one card was a teddy bear holding a present. On the next card was Minnie Mouse holding a cupcake. One evening during dinner, she turned to me and said, “Mama, that bear is sad because Minnie Mouse took his cupcape.” I looked at the cards and saw exactly what she saw. That bear did indeed look like he wanted that cupcake. And I’ll be damned if Minnie didn’t have a smug look on her face. I can’t even imagine how amazing it would be to give a child the opportunity to problem-solve even life’s most minor inconveniences, and then give them the skills and support to see it through.

The video below gives some detail about the backbone and the research behind the campaign, as well as what they plan to do and how they plan to do it. I encourage you to use the link below to help KidStarter become widespread and available for all kids – regardless of their financial status, gender, age, location, or intellect. They will benefit from it and so will the world around them.

KidStarter Campaign Video from The Fold on Vimeo. Click here for more information and to donate to this awesome campaign.

Sponsored post: I was compensated as a member of BoostInsider to write this post. However, all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Falling to Pieces. Not me, my house.

I wasn’t going to write about this on here. It seems like all I talk about in real life and bringing it to the blog felt like the wrong venue. Then I had a conversation with a friend and I realized that our home is a part of our family’s history and it does deserve to be documented here. 

 Let me start from the beginning.

I planned a party for Lilly’s birthday against my better judgement. I planned it because my mother demanded I throw a party. After I told her when to come and invited people, she told me she couldn’t come until the next weekend. Ugh. So I was planning a party anyway. 

Party day came and all was perfect. Everyone had a great time despite the frigid temperature and snow on top of more snow. My baby was going to be one!

Cue the next weekend and my mom’s questionable decision to come to Buffalo in the worst month of the year (from San Diego, no less). She was horrified and amazed at the 12-foot snow piles at the side of the road and how “everything is closed! Even BINGO!”

By the Sunday of her visit, we were all feeling pretty cooped-up. Stanley kept peeing in the house (as usual). After what the hubs thought was another Stanley puddle dripped on his head, he looked up and realized the horrible truth: we have a leak. 

But here’s the thing: for most people this wouldn’t be a problem. They would call their insurance company and get the snow off the roof and roll with it. I panic and the hubs avoids. That’s how we roll. After consulting several rational people, I put in an insurance claim in case we couldn’t afford the work. 

The guys came and removed the ice dams on the back of the house and we were a cool $1000 poorer. 3 hours later… Crash! There went the kitchen ceiling. Hello, attic floor!

But we all know the story doesn’t end there.  So, the hubs cleaned up the mess and we chalked it up to waterlogged plaster that was heated with steam to remove the dams. Understandable. At least now we could get on the books for an estimate to dry the attic and repair the water damage (we are still not on these mysterious “books”).

This is the girls’ playroom. Where we keep their toys. Where they happily frolic while the hubs and I get ready for work in the mornings. And now they can’t play there. My living room looks like this:

It’s making me a little nuts, you guys!

Now here we are two weeks later in the midst of a two day heat wave where we have actually had some melt. So, of course we sprung a leak in the front entryway. Pouring water for about an hour last night. Thankfully it stopped. 

We still aren’t scheduled for an estimate. It get wont even do any work until the snow is off the roof. I’m hoping one day I’ll look back on this month of torture and laugh, but for now… I just want to burn it to the ground.

Nature vs. Nurture – Raising a Child Who is Like Me

Gabrielle. She causes me to sigh (a lot). She is sweet, funny, smart, cuddly, and precocious.


Toddler finger-painting 

 On the other hand, she is sassy, jealous, introverted, sensitive, and a perfectionist. These are the traits that pain me. I know life is going to be tough for her. She speaks her mind with complete honesty, but she is so sensitive that she isn’t emotionally tough enough to deal with the repercussions. She is happy with what she has… unless someone else has something. Then she wants what they have. She is so afraid to make mistakes that she often chooses not to take chances or try new things. At dance class, it takes nearly the whole class before she is confident enough to move away from me and just be in the moment. 

 And I know exactly how all of this feels. She is such a bright, happy little girl, but I worry about her socially. Of course she is only two, but she actually looks afraid of the kids who run to greet her when she arrives at daycare. These are kids she plays with all day, every day. 

 Is it just her nature? I have tried so hard not to put any of this on her. I’ve allowed her to make messes and mistakes and yet she somehow has developed the same anxiety over messy hands and her sister “messing up her block tower” that I have struggled with my entire life. Is it nurture? Have I rewarded these behaviors by being too sympathetic? I know how it feels to make a laundry pile and then have a baby walk up and knock the whole thing down. I must be feeding into her anxiety. 

 I just hope that my empathy is enough for her to be able to deal with being a Type-A maniac trapped inside an introvert. It’s not easy. Just ask Gabby’s mom.