On the Run at Target

She ran away from me today. I turned around and she was gone. No Anna as far as I could see. I called. No answer. I was terrified. I crouched down to look under the clothes racks. No little feet hiding in the clothes. I stopped and tried not to be panic. I knew where she had gone.

A few minutes before, we had misplaced the 99-cent lip gloss we'd planned to buy. "Mommy, where did you put it? I gave it to you so we wouldn't leave it behind." Yes, yes. I'm a bad mommy. "Let me finish up here, and we'll go back and get another one."

She screams at me: "No, mommy. Now." As I turn around to hurry up and finish the task at hand, I turn back around to negotiate some more, and she was gone. A Target saleslady was standing there, watching this whole exchange, and she saw me panic. "Do you remember what my little girl looks like? Can you help me find her? I think I know where she went, but I need you to stay here in case she comes back."

I'm running through Target screaming "Anna!" I see her in the distance (across the store) standing at the lip gloss picking out the one she wanted with two other moms standing nearby, keeping and eye on her. I scooped her up and we left--without the lip gloss of course.



The winner of the Writing Motherhood giveaway is Tiffany Severtson. Thanks to all who wrote this week.


All I Want for Christmas

Yes, yes. I know it's too early to be talking about Christmas. Though I will take this time to point out that my Target has Christmas stuff out....yes indeedy. They may think it's hidden behind the Halloween crap, but it's still out. Even if you hide, it's still there. Anyway, I digress....

All I want for Christmas is this super awesome Plasma car. My neighbor has one for her three-year-old son. And I know I'm too old for it, but I can still want it, right? Yesterday afternoon, the neighbor kids were playing in front of my house with all the toy cars, bikes and scooters. But this was by far, the most bad-ass one I've ever seen. Why? Because it's big enough for a grown up to ride and go flying down the street.

My neighbor joked that I would buy one and while my kids were in preschool....there would be Miss Linda....flying down our street enjoying the fall weather. Yep, she's right.

The thing about this car is you don't even need a hill to make it go. Just by turning the steering wheel, you can go on a perfectly flat surface. I only wish we had room for this in our house. Maybe some nice family member will buy this for us. Otherwise, I'm going to buy it for my friend and her three boys and go play at her house.


The First Time I Understood Sacrifice

This is part of the "Writing Motherhood" writing challenge and giveaway. The topic is "a first." It can be anything: the first time you dropped your child off at school, the first time you realized you were a mother, the first time you freaked out. Just start writing. It doesnt matter what you write. It's just about writing. See what happens. Post a link to your own writing in the comments section and you can win a copy of "Writing Motherhood."

As a mom, "sacrifice" is a word we hear often. We sacrifice our bodies for nine months. We sacrifice our sleep for God-only-knows how long. We sacrifice our careers. We sacrifice our own time to clean up the dishes, make lunches, read bedtime stories and bathe our kids. We sacrifice our comfort as a squirming toddler sits on our lap crying for a 8-hour airplane ride. By the time our children are two minutes old, we've all experienced some kind of motherly sacrifice.

My kids are now four and three. The sacrificing is so much different for me now. I sacrifice my last piece of chocolate to split with them. I will sacrifice my computer time in the evening to read them a book. But generally they are more self sufficient so the sacrificing on my part has diminished a bit in some way. It's a little sad sometimes.

Now, our life has become a bit simpler--at least for now until something else stirs it up. I have three things facing me right now. New sacrifices. Should we A) add another baby to our household B) Send me back to work C) Buy a new house. Now I'm at a point where one of these roads will lead me to a different level of sacrifice--the first time of choosing to make a sacrifice. They may not all seem connected, but they are.

Another baby leads us back down the road to the ultimate motherly sacrifice--no sleep, breastfeeding, never sitting down to eat, starting it all over again. It also means I will probably delay going back to work for a while, which I both want to do and don't want to do. Delaying this means sacrificing my career in the long term. Having another baby means not working and not being able to afford a bigger house. Then we're sacrificing space and comfort.

If I choose B (going back to work), I'm sacrificing having another baby. It does not bode well for an employee to take a job and get pregnant right away. So it doesn't make sense to jump back into the workforce only to take off some maternity leave and struggle to do it all. If I chose to not have another child, going back to work means sacrificing my time with my kids. Even with them in school now and their ability to play on their own, I love being at home with them.

A new house means many things for us. Mainly it means I either go back to work (sacrificing my time here at home) or make some major sacrifices here at home in order to afford the house we want.

If we leave everything status quo? I'm left in our small house enjoying my two kids. It's not a bad place to be, is it? But I feel sometimes taking risks is a good thing and with risk comes sacrifice. But in the end, it's me making the sacrifice. Now I have the opportunity to decide which way I want to go. What do I want to sacrifice?


Where I Am These Days

I've been so bad these days with keeping up on my blog. So I thought I'd let you know where I've been lately. Mainly, I'm spending quite a lot of time over at Baby Bunching--not just writing--but trying to promote. Want to help? Link to our new blog please!

I'm also still writing over at DC Metro Moms when I can find the time. Occassionaly I help my friend Tech Savvy Mama out over at Being Savvy DC. And just recently I have started blogging for Tea Collection as an outlet for all my travel journaling I did during our travels. This way you all can stop hearing about "In Sweden . . . " or "In Qatar . . . "

You Can't Ever Be Fully Prepared

I arrived at the gym 8 minutes before my kickboxing class. I was stoked that I managed to be so efficient this morning, got hubby to take daughter to school and son and I were ready for the good ole' YMCA. Stopped in to make a pit stop before class only to find out Dear Aunt Flow decided to visit two weeks too early. My purse contents contained: water bottle, head phones for the gym, wallet, cell phone, sunscreen, wrappers of cough drops, a few crayons, wipes, bug spray. Contents of purse did not include tampon. OK, no problem. I dropped in at EVERY bathroom at the Y only to find out they do not stock feminine products. I ran into one friend and one former preschool teacher. I had no shame in begging for help. No help.

I was going to have to ask the front desk. There was no negotiating around this issue right now. Alex was dropped off at the gym's childcare already. I was mentally prepared for my class. No way was I going to miss it, and no way would I be able to go through it without something. So, I swallowed my pride and asked the front desk.

Fortunately, I hadn't been the only stupid person because she said she'd been asked the same question on Friday. Ha! That made me feel better. She went and asked another coworker. She couldn't find any. But she had one in her purse. Nope, she'd brought the wrong purse. She went to dig through some more places and then another coworkers asked if she could help. I now have three women looking. Sure enough, they found one and I was saved.

Good thing, because it was a great workout! I imagine to have everything in my bag to prepare me for anything, except this. Stupid period.


The Weekend of Festivals

Lately, my monkeys have been accommodating for various festivals around town. A year ago when Anna was two and Alex was 3 1/2 we couldn't manage this since she didn't listen very well, but this fall (my favorite time of the year here) we've been relishing in all the fun fests.

Two weeks ago we attended a local Oktoberfest (my kids can be spotted in a few of the pix) at our very favorite Austrian restaurant: Euro Bistro. This was the first year they tried it, and I think it was awesome for a little parking lot in Herndon. Great music, great food and great beer. The kids danced and sang and we drank beer.

After that festival was such a success, we tried a wine fest this weekend. Beer.....wine.....we like to introduce our children to finer things in life early. So we drove out to Tarara Winery on Saturday morning for their Great Grape Festival. The kids enjoyed a "hay ride" out to pick apples and ride paddle boats, moonbounces, live music, playground and picnic. Mom and Dad enjoyed a wine tasting and the little local crafts. Because isn't everything better with wine?

And just because we're that crazy, after a day at the winery, today we made our second family trip to the opening weekend of Cox Farms. Us and about 30,000 other Northern Virginia suburban families were there with our coupons in hand for a free visit. I'm not sure if this topped our visit from last year. The great thing was that this year, both kids had no fear of the slides. The hay ride was even more fun this year because the kids were ready to see the witches, alien, and "barn of doom."

After a few workouts and running after the kids, I am thoroughly exhausted. Our next festival?? Probably the Great Country Farms fall festival.


Learning to Play

Here is the difference with my kids. Alex, while a bit on the agressive side with some boys, will play with anyone. He's not picky. Boy. Girl. Three. Four. Five. Six. He can turn any kid into this new best friend. I challenge you to bring on the kid he can't befriend. Anna, however, has a different style. We can't figure it out. She's not interested in making friends outside of the two she's had for a few years. She wants to be in the spotlight, but dammit if she will step on everyone to get there.

This week I decided to stop in at school and visit her teacher. Yep, when I pulled up I see Anna trying to climb over the fence of the playground and the teacher removing her not once, but twice and sternly saying something that I can only imagine was "please, stay off the fence."

Sure enough her teacher reported that Anna is learning to play with others. Hmmmmm...funny, since I heard this same report last year. Although she did follow it up with telling me Anna was pretty clever. Apparently she wanted the swing. The kid wouldn't get off so Anna parked a stroller in front of the swing so the kid couldn't actually....swing. She admited it was one of the more clever ways she'd seen to get someone off the swing, but did recommend that she use "words" instead of conniving ways to get people to do what she wanted. (No, she didn't say this exactly, but I got the point.)

Preschool politics are so fun!


Writing Motherhood Challenge

I recently read a great book called Writing Motherhood by Lisa Garrigues. It's a wonderful book for moms, like me, who love to write, have the inspiration but can't find it within ourselves to really WRITE or who just can't find the time. The book provides a way to almost reteach us the art of writing in how we observe our children and the daily routine. When I read this, I want to be the writer I always dreamed of being.

One of the exercises she talks about is begining with writing starts. You take a topic and you just write what comes into your head for a set amount of time. No rules. No restrictions. Just writing.

So I'm opening this up to my readers. Here’s the cool part. Think about this over the next few days and write something on the topic below. Post it to your blog, come back here on Sept. 23 and post the link. Lisa, the author, will be strolling through all the websites that are part of this virtual “writing group” and reading everyone’s posts and commenting. As a bonus, I will giving away a copy of Writing Motherhood.

Here is the topic. Remember to come back on Tuesday and post your link. (I will post a reminder on Monday) My post will be up on Tuesday as well. Have fun!

First Words and Other Firsts: Open any baby diary and you will find whole pages devoted to firsts: first smile, first words, first friends, first birthday. Why are firsts so significant? Because they represent a beginning. Because they push us beyond what is familiar and comfortable. Because they jolt us out of the numbness or everyday life and bring us back to our primitive selves when we saw a world through a child's eyes. Keeping in mind that first experiences do not end with babyhood, write about a first: the first day of kindergarten, the first day of college, the first grandchild. Or simply begin with the writing start "the first time" and write down the first thing that comes to mind.

The Big Beach Diet

No, this is not prior to the beach to fit into my swimsuit. Ha! This is trying to take off the weight FROM the summer and the beach. Since our return a few weeks ago, I have managed the gym almost everyday with a friend. Thank God for the friend. I am so externally motivated that it makes it easier to work out if I'm committed to meeting someone there. Plus, my kids love playing with her son. In two weeks, I lost 6 pounds. I know that's not much, but my clothes at least fit again and I don't hate looking at myself in the mirror anymore.


I Did it Again

I have decided to stop shopping. This statement alone will make my husband jump up and down and kiss me....a lot. Perhaps I should qualify that statement with 'I have decided to stop shopping unless I do it online.' Honey, you can still kiss me though. I'm done going out to shop.

I went again today to the mall. To browse. With one kid. I came home with a few things from Gymboree (panties for Anna to replace the ones I didn't get right last weekend), socks for Andrew, Halloween PJs for my kids (they love them and theirs are too small), t-shirts from H&M for me. Do you remember my story about Target from last weekend. If not, read this first.

Are you caught up now? I got home and noticed the PJs for Anna were the wrong size. The socks for Andrew were the wrong size. I managed to mess up payment for two transactions. I had one child with me. One. Either I'm getting old or I just really suck at shopping. So I vow, to start shopping online. It will be smarter that way. I will wait for free shipping and save on gas. I can double check a million times about sizes, all in the comfort of my own home.


Vacationing with Little Ones

Catch me blogging over at Tea Collection this week talking about our trip a few years ago to Damascus. Yes, this is the same company that makes the cute kids clothes.



Sept. 11 will forever be part of my past. Tuesday morning. Andrew had just gone to DC the day before for his interviewing/testing with the CIA, which I couldn't tell anyone back then. I was watching the news while getting for work when I saw the smoke at the the World Trade Center. They were interviewing witnesses and all of the sudden I watched the other plane fly into the other tower right there. I suddenly knew. I knew we were under attack. I sat glued to the TV and called in late for work and stayed a bit to watch more. Scared.

Then when I saw the next plane hit the Pentagon, I was terrified. I knew Andrew was in DC, but I didn't know where he was. Some undisclosed location, I had been told. I panicked. I had no one to call because I didn't have a number.

So I went to work. Better to pass time with coworkers than staying at home. I didn't hear from him for hours and when I finally did I was relieved. Next my brother, who lives in Manhattan. He was accounted for and he had seen the first plane fly overhead when we went out to take something to the mailbox. His first thought, "That plane is flying a little too close to the buildings." He was right.

My husband was stuck in DC until Friday and managed to get out on the first flight from Dulles that morning. He said people where praying on the plane and when it finally touched down in Austin, the plane errupted in applause.

It was then my husband set out to fight the "bad guys." We officially moved to Washington DC in January 2002 where he has dedicated the last almost seven years to making this country safer.

Disappearing Cell Phones

Monday morning we had to attend a meeting at school about how the car line works at school. My son had to attend with me and thought it was all pretty funny. The director of the school gave us permission to talk on our cell phones until we turned the corner to pick up the kids then our cell phones had to disappear. Alex looked at me with surprise and whispers, "Mommy, how will you make your cell phone disappear? Can you do that? Can Mrs. Plum really make you do that?"

Book Giveaway @ Baby Bunching

We're giving away a book over at Baby Bunching. We just need your best sleep advice and you could win a copy of "Sleep is for the Weak."


Back to School for the Boy

Today was Alex's first day of school. Unfortunately it was a "phase-in" day for him, which meant he was there for an hour and 15 minutes. Kind of a waste for the four-year olds, but oh well. He talked about his new friend Charlie and a few of the activities they did. He had no trouble being left, and like his sister, didn't even look up when I left.

Tomorrow, both kids go for the full three hours and bonus for me is that my husband will drive them there. Score! That means I only have to make the one trip there and will spend the morning getting caught up on my blogging and writing. So, I should be back online more regularly now. Yay!

I do admit to being a little sad as this is Alex's last year before kindergarten, and I think it finally hit me today. Next year, he will be gone all day. Sad.

Odd Games

My kids have never been a big fan of toys...don't ask why because I don't know why. So this week we've picked up a few fun games. Nevermind the totally awesome free Lego table I pulled from the neighbor's trash today. Am I totally gross? C'mon you'd take it too.

Top Kerr Kid games this week:

Pirate--The kids take turn hiding treasure and trying to find interesting "tools" to dig them up.

Rocket--They climb into an abandoned toy chest from Qatar made of wicker. They put the top on and pretend to go to the moon and different planets. They will tell you if it's hot or cold based on how far away from the sun it is.

Pippi--My kids are so into Pippi Longstocking these days. Anna plays Pippi and Alex is Tommy. They do stunts, look for pirates and go on "adventures" which involve something that flies.

Coloring on Demand--I found this great website that allows me to print coloring pages on demand for my kids who want to color pirates, rockets, pippi, Little Mermaid, etc.

Cleaning--This one is my favorite. They discovered a container of baby wipes. Normally I frown on this behavior, but for an hour they were quiet and busy. They take baby wipes and clean EVERYTHING! Toys, books covers, the stairs, the walls, the doors, the table, the kitchen. I kid you not.

And like I suspected no one gave a flying flip about the Lego table. Glad I didn't buy one.


School Starts: Girl Goes to School

My kids start school this week, and today was Anna's first day. Because of the days they go, she had to start before Alex. Can I just tell you there was a lot of "why does she get to go first?" conversation in this house lately. Alex goes tomorrow so a day is a HUGE difference in the life of a four-year old.

So this year started out much like last year. Except Anna plays the I-don't-want-you-to-leave-grab-my-leg card. I don't buy this anymore. She pretends she's shy so the teachers give her extra attention. Sweetie, I'm on to you.

After about two seconds of pretending she's so scared to be there, she darts to the dress up area and starts playing. Did she look back? No way. I feel so fortunate that it's always this easy. I did hear later from her about all the other kids who cried for their moms. My little gossip queen. For her, the big step up from the 2s class to the 3s is being able to do car line. She loved it, but soon have to learn it's not OK to dart out to the car.

While Anna was in her one hour of phase in, Alex and I used this rare time to have lunch together. How fun to take my boy out for lunch alone, without his sister. His response was "Mommy, it's fun to do things just with you sometimes. I love Anna, but sometimes I love just me and you. Can we share some ice cream?" Yes, ever the master negotiator.


Just Another Wasted Trip to Target

I can easily count the number of times a week I go to Target--anywhere from one to three. I know it's excessive. Sometimes it's not to buy a lot, sometimes it's to return or just kill some time. I am a master at Target's seduction to buy, buy, buy. I can get out of there for under $30.

Yesterday's trip was a little different. I dragged my husband and two kids to pick up a few things. Andrew generously took the kids to the toys while I quickly shopped. You'd think without the kids around, I'd do bettr without the distraction.

Here are the items I purchased:

--Laundry detergent
--Night Light for the kids' bathroom
--Sandwich bags
--Toilet Paper
--Socks for Anna
--Underwear for Anna
--Raincoat for Alex
--Package of wipes

I'm not sure what was going on in my head while I had NOT A SINGLE CHILD NEAR ME, but I managed to royally screw up the trip, necessitating not just one, but two trips back for returns.

--Night Light (turns out the kids' bathroom outlet only works when the light is ON. You certainly don't need a nightlight if the light is on, now do you?)
--Underwear for Anna (Somewhere in my browsing for cute panties, I managed to pick up size 10 for her, she's a size 4.)
--Socks for Anna (Got too small a size.)
--Concealer (Picked out the wrong shade.)

This by far, is the worst shopping record for me on purchases vs. returns. I think I need a Target break for a while.


Countdown to School

My kids are so excited about school. Both start this upcoming week, and we lucked out this year with two sets of GREAT teachers. Yay! Although at "meet the teacher" I couldn't bring myself to explain the testicle math counting to Alex's new teacher, I did inform him of his interest in all things numbers. Anna's teacher. Well, she wanted to know about her personality. What does a teacher think when you reply with: "Spunky. Scrappy. Individual." I'm sure they're scared.


Jooners for Organizing School Schedules/Volunteers

School starting means schedules for everyone. Kids in school with activities, lunch bunch, sports, playdates, ballet, etc. The lazy days of summer (which I never actually experience this year) are officially over and the fall excitement has started. Yay!

Once upon a time when I was a high tech girl, I kept up with everything "up and coming" in the technology field, back when that was what I did. The one thing I never could commit to electronically was scheduling. I am a pen and paper girl. I have a big calendar at my desk with everything I need right there in front of me. I suppose if I worked out of another office, I might need to carry it with me, but I think I would still use pen and paper. Jooners is a new Evite-like system for moms that allows them to keep track of their schedule for every member of the family, as well as keeping people outside the family linked into snack schedules and soccer news.

I'm not sure if I would ever really use this service, like I do Evite, but coordinating volunteers might be easier with this for many schools, especially ones that don't have a system already in place....like our school. If you are a room mom for school or the leaderhip, run everything type, you might check out Jooners as a way to organize it all for your group. For me, though, my schedule remains old school and I don't see me switching anytime soon.


School Starts, But Not For Us

So apparently the entire planet has started school by now, except for us. My kids start their "phase in" next week. Today we watched all the other kids get on the school bus. But the upside to no school for us is one more week of the playground, the pool, the gym, the stores without all the other kids around.

We did manage a trip up to school today to drop off lunch for the teachers' inservice meeting. Yes, I am THAT mom who "bribes" my kids' teachers. What can I say?

While my mom suggested I make this week super fun for my kids since it's our last week with both of them until Christmas vacation, my friend Amy said her mom insisted on making it the most boring week so the kids would be happy to go back. Well, my kids are already so excited to see their friends and new teachers that I think we'll just enjoy the empty playgrounds and pools for one more week.