Farmer Boy Ain’t Got Nothin’ on My Son

Our family is reading aloud the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder and are enjoying the third installment, Farmer Boy.  Of course, Almanzo is a typical boy ruled by his stomach and much of the first part of the book describes his daydreams about food and then the copious amount he actually consumes.  However, his enormous appetite is no match for my second-born’s when he is having a growth spurt.  Suddenly a seven-taco dinner (plus sides) simply isn’t enough to satiate my own growing boy.  The warning sign to stock the fridge is that he talks about food 90 percent of the time, instead of the usual 70 percent.  A typical day before a growth spurt begins goes something like this:

(hungry bear…yes, bear…licking syrup off his plate while clearing his breakfast dishes)

Mom, I’m hungry….what’s for LUNCH?! 

 Two hours later:

 (hungry bear) Mom, I need a snack!

(me) What would you like?

(hungry bear) Chinese food!

(me) It’s 10:00 in the morning.  How about a granola bar?

And after supper:

Mom, can I have dessert?  I was thinking General Tso’s Chicken!

It isn’t surprising this boy is five feet tall and 100 pounds.  It is also not a shock this boy with an appetite larger than Almanzo Wilder’s has outpaced Dad at every age for height and weight.  What is surprising is that he is only nine years old and super-cuddly.  In a few years I expect my son will bang his head on doorways and still want to sit in my lap.  He loves to bound across the playground at school and into my arms for a hug and it’s gotten to the point I have to brace myself for the impact.  I feel guilty…but if I fall and break a hip I won’t be able to cook up the piles of pasta and fish sticks (I know, yuck, right?) that keep him fed between meals.  Keeping his energy consumption at pace with his amazing ability to grow is practically two full time jobs, his and mine.  For example, here is what (I know) he ate and drank the other day:

~a doughnut, three thick slices of French Toast and his brother’s bacon strips

~Eight pieces of sushi

~a pint of mixed berries

~an entire bottle of Gatorade

~several handfuls of yogurt raisins

~an entire package of teriyaki beef jerky

~a whole bag of lentil-potato swirls

~a half gallon of one percent milk


~a huge amount of popcorn

~”three” candy pumpkins (I say “three” because that’s what he was given but my husband found the empty bag on the kitchen counter.)

And after all that, he wanted to know if he could have a submarine sandwich.

My pantry barely holds enough food for a growing nine year old.  We're going to have to knock out a wall for when he turns 16.

My pantry barely holds enough food for a growing nine year old. We’re going to have to knock out a wall for when he turns 16.

November 2014’s Book is a Keeper


After dumping October 2014’s book in favor of one that exposed my nonexistent ability to market a blog (doesn’t speak much for my recent book choices, does it?), I wanted to give my choice for November more than a trial run before I posted what it was going to be.  Furthermore, feeling untrustworthy in the book-picking department, I even left the final decision to a higher power:  the library circulation desk.  Or more accurately, the faster reader who brings books back on time.

After putting a hold on two books I simply waited for the first of the two to be returned and that became the read for this month.  And it doesn’t disappoint.  Dad is Fat by “clean” comedian Jim Gaffigan has caused me to snort and giggle in quiet waiting rooms and lobbies and my kids to wonder why I would read a book that so accurately describes their own father.  Which is totally untrue (that is him in the above picture).  Gaffigan, the father of five, writes short essays about parenting with total self-deprication and he is darn funny and darn accurate.  What sold me on this book was his comment in his chapter called “Anti-Family,” about the challenges of parenting:

You joke about it.  That’s how you deal.  If parents don’t like being a parent, they don’t talk about being a parent.  … Failing and laughing at your own shortcomings are the hallmarks of a sane parent.

Well, what a relief.  Even if I make inappropriate noises while reading in public at least I am “a sane parent.”  If I can’t laugh at the stupid things I’ve done in the name of trying to be a good mom, then what can I laugh at?

Jim Gaffigan’s terribly funny perspective on parenting.

A Mother’s Promise


I promise:

~to listen to you.  Because you are clever, funny and insightful.

~to play catch, bake cookies and make crafts with you because we have our best talks when we do those things.

~to not feed you crap…most of the time.  I promise to wash those beautiful, 88-cents-a-half-pint nonorganic raspberries through two off-key versions of “Happy Birthday.”  And also to feed you Fruity-Pebble-encrusted donuts every three months because, hey, life is too short to miss out on something so decadently gross.

~to encourage you in the path you are meant to follow, not the one I think you should take.

~to encourage good hygiene by trimming your fingernails, cleaing your ears and making sure you brush your teeth…because someday you are going to need those habits when want to impress a “crush.”  Not that I like the idea you will be grown-up enough to have crushes, but because I know I can’t keep it from happening.

~to make you practice your multiplication tables, violin and guitar so you discover that practice is the only way to improve and master.

~to not buy you crap…most of the time.  Sometimes that Minion/Elsa/Minecraft Creeper Pez dispenser is, uh, indispensable on a road trip.

~to giggle along with bathroom jokes because they really don’t hurt anyone and because they really are quite funny.

~to listen to you read, to read to you, and to read beside you.  Not because it is part of your homework, but because the love of books is a gift no one can take from you.

~to apologize when I do and say stupid things, because I am not “above the law” and you need to see that I am fallible.

~to make you do chores, not just because Mommy is lazy, but because a sense of responsibility to The Family, ahem, our family (and home), is an important skill to learn.

~to make you watch my favorite childhood movie (The Sound of Music) at least three times a year until you love it as much as I (still) do.

And my most important promise:

~to love you, unconditionally.


To My Supporters

It’s hard to believe pulseonparenting is over a year old!  Even more astonishing is the 73 posts that seem to have come out of nowhere (and yes, some actually did).  Knowing most blogs peter out for lack of content I feel so lucky and grateful to have more topics in mind and in rough draft as well.  My blog is a source of joy to work on.

However, I am going to take a partial hiatus.  Short ditties will still be published but less often for the next month, or perhaps until the end of this year.  The reason is I need to research and begin what I have been putting off since starting my blog and that thing is as out of my comfort zone as performing a lobotomy:  Marketing.

My personality and background couldn’t have prepared me less for advertising and networking.  But after finishing the book Growth Hacker Marketing by Ryan Holiday, I learned those traditional marketing tactics may become obsolete in this online world. And I feel encouraged that even a novice as myself can use the basic tricks of a “growth hacker” (someone who injects marketing into a product) to jumpstart an online commodity.

Wow, I actually tried the word “commodity” in a sentence (I’m more comfortable with the word “commode” so this is a baby step in the right direction…).  But I have so very much to otherwise learn about “getting it out there.”  Know how much I appreciate all of you who are following “pulse” now and hope you will continue to…your support means the world to me.  As a heads up, I plan to contact some of you in the near future to ask for feedback and hope that in the course of your busy schedules you can give me a couple minutes of your time.  Please also feel free to “comment” on this post if you like!

“See” you all again soon!

Our newest family addition, Dakota.  Our daily hikes help me clear my head, fill my lungs with fresh air and prep me for the next writing adventure.

Our newest family addition, Dakota. Our daily hikes help me clear my head, fill my lungs with fresh air and prep me for the next writing adventure.

A PhD in Mommyhood?

Mommy Brain.  We all know someone with it.  We all joke about it.  Any mom who has ever locked her keys in the car, left the milk under the grocery cart in the cart corral or who has said, “What?  (Some event) has happened in (insert name of country here)?!” know exactly what Mommy Brain is.

Or do we?

If I had the foresight years ago to scrapbook all the clever ditties I read about motherhood, I could tell you who derived my favorite factoid and how but since I can’t…Well, I’m going to tell you about it anyway.  Because it is just too good.  When my boys were babies, I read in Real Simple magazine that when women become mothers they get smarter.  At the time I was involved in a Mothers of Multiples group and when I brought this little bit of reassurance to a meeting of fried, overtired women, everyone agreed when a fellow member said:  “Smarter?  Overwhelmed and exhausted, yes.  But smarter?  No.”

If that bit of info came qualified with more detail, I could have argued the counterpoint.  But the article, a mere few sentences in length, didn’t offer up much support for itself.  Still, it’s an interesting tidbit.  One that I want to defend.  So forget the captive keys and MIA milk and consider these points: Continue reading


I hate to be cryptic instead of concrete but this time I need to be, to protect those involved.  For several months I have been ruminating over something, wasting my energies.  I was investing emotional currency into a situation I could only speculate about and it was unhealthy, draining and unproductive.

Then recently, a turn of events shed light onto the whole deal and things seemed to make sense…the reactions or lack thereof, avoidances and interactions that I tried to dissect came together to form a picture different from what I mentally painted.  What a relief it was to have some understanding even though it meant a sad situation was revealed.

And it made me think how important it is to give someone the benefit of the doubt and that we can never know for sure what pain others are experiencing.  The issue is likely not us, but something else entirely.  Even though all I did was steer clear and exercise caution in the face of the perceived situation, a quote I love reminded me that I should have risen above my frustration and behaved differently:

Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.  Be kind.  Always.

(quote courtesy of

Happy Birthday! (Hold the Cake…)


A highlight of a child’s birthday is bringing treats to school.  The interruption of the school routine for personal attention, a “Happy Birthday” serenade complete with “Cha-cha-cha’s” and a decadent treat to eat drive my kids to plan this particular event not days, but months in advance.  Despite their intense pre-planning (motivation I wish would spill over to doing homework, cleaning their rooms….) the request from mom’s kitchen is predictable:  cupcakes with sprinkles or fancy toothpicks, please.  However this year my daughter threw a sweet curveball.  As some of her friends are on a gluten-free diet, she wanted gluten-free brownies to take to her class.  With her name “written” in M and M’s, please.  I love her unprovoked thoughtfulness on a day when most young kids develop an unsurpassed narcissism and was more than willing to indulge her request.  Plus these brownies are literally to die for.  No one misses the gluten-y goodness.

When I brought the treats to my daughter’s second grade class, two children rushed up to ask what was in the brownies. Continue reading

Sorry, Mr. Robbins, My Mind Just Doesn’t Work That Way

Good Wisconsin cheese, local coffee and a new book.  I almost put my ski boots in the picture but thought that would be weird.  Not weirder than riding in a roast turkey, though.

Good Wisconsin cheese, local coffee and a new book. I almost put my ski boots in the picture but thought that would be weird. Not weirder than riding in a roast turkey, though.

Life is short.  Too short to drink bad coffee (as is advertised by the coffee shop I’m sitting in right now), eat processed cheese and to not give downhill skiing a second chance (God help me).  Well, I tried and tried to get into Nurtured by Love, the account by violinist Shin’ichi Suzuki on his “talent is learned” philosophy, but have struggled through the first third of his 142-page book.  As my frustration grew with trying to learn valuable insights on our son’s violin method my husband told me

Life is short.  Read something you enjoy.

His advice got my attention.  Because when I tossed aside How the Mind Works after wading through a dry first chapter on mental neurology, he said I didn’t give the textbook-sized volume enough of a chance.  And when a Tom Robbins novel opened with newlyweds roaring down the highway in a roast turkey, I thought that was the dumbest thing ever (bye-bye, book) and my husband rolled his eyes.  So when his newfound live-in-the-moment-life-is-short perspective gave me permission to close the cover on yet a third book, I did. Continue reading

The Principal Always Rings Twice

What do parents and doctors have in common?  Call.  Which means we must have some sort of electronic gadget within easy reach (surgical attachment, anyone?) so the school or the sitter (or the hospital) can get ahold of us at a moment’s notice.  The only difference is parents must take this responsibility round the clock, not every third weekend or weekday (which, don’t get me wrong,  is plenty tough).   But like doctors, we parents can have a degree of superstition about how to ward off bad news delivered by phone.  For me, my mobile is always in my pocket or purse…even when I meet my kids at the bus stop after school.  Because inevitably, if I leave it on the kitchen counter, the school calls.  Without fail.

But doggone it,  the school has found a loophole in my strategy:  call while I am brushing my teeth in public. Continue reading



My younger son loves to play games.  And not surprisingly, he loves to win.  He is so driven in fact, that he is a flagrant, and I mean flagrant, cheater.  As in he grabs a handful of cards from a deck and chooses the one he wants, right in front of his opponents.  Or he tries to break the rules by announcing just that and then shoots us the I-am-so-guilty-but-maybe-they-won’t-notice look.

Therefore, my son has been dubbed “Sir Cheaterpants.”

Fortunately he is a good natured boy and takes the ribbing well.  But his inclination to “stack the deck” in his favor has me thinking:

Should we let our kids win? Continue reading