Do You Suffer From 3rd Child Syndrome?

Do you suffer from the following?

  • “Racing” heart
  • Feeling weak, faint, or dizzy
  • Tingling or numbness in the hands and fingers
  • Sense of terror, or impending doom or death
  • Feeling sweaty or having chills
  • Chest pains
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Feeling a loss of control
  • Peeing yourself just a little.

Okay, fine, I added that last one – but I think you know what I’m saying. According to WebMD – these are the symptoms of a panic attack – or as I like to call it, “3rd Child Syndrome.” This syndrome is known (well, only by me and a few friends at this point) to set in after the birth of a third child. Patients claim to have been fearless or at least not a scaredycat (also a medical term) until child number three entered the world. Patients complain that at some point after, they began to be nervous around heights and driving in snowstorms.

Case in point –

Patient name: Mom Land

Scene: Mountain hike near a large canyon in Hawaii

Incident: Mom Land spazzed like a cat up a tree after encountering a dangerous cliff. Patient expressed experiencing the above symptoms and having to pretend to have a bag to breathe in while completing said hike.

3rd Child Syndrome can be a debilitating disease. It limits fun hikes, sky diving and drives on snow-covered highways at night. As of yet, there is no known cure. (Well, maybe wine.) Do you or someone you know suffer from 3rd Child Syndrome?


Taking Turns Being God

“When is it going to be my turn to be God?”

It’s an odd question. I’ll give you that. It’s even more odd when it is asked by your five-year old, with obvious annoyance in his voice.

Let me back this up for you. It was bedtime. Prayer time, to be exact. We were saying our nightly, “Now I lay me down to sleep…” with a few add-ons, when my son interrupted, demanding to know when it was going to be his turn to be God. He seemed pretty annoyed that God’s been God for a while now, essentially saying He should let someone else take the reins for a bit.

I explained to my preschooler that being God was not like playing with a truck on the playground. This is one thing that is not shared – and even if it was – we pretty much all learned it wouldn’t work, thanks to movies like “Bruce Almighty” and the sequel, “Evan Almighty.” There are some things in this world that are better left alone. This is surely one of them.

So, how do you explain to a child that, although we make him share his toys with his friends and dessert with his family, he certainly not get to take his turn being God? Or, maybe the more fun question is, what would life look like if your child was able to play God for a day?

The Gifts Under the Tree

By now, you may be on top of it – already packed up the tree and decorations and cleaned up all evidence of Christmas 2014. Or, maybe you’re holding on to tradition and keeping the tree up a few more days, savoring another successful Christmas. Chances are – either way – you are tripping over the mess that is Christmas past. The packaging, the tiny toys that fell out of the stockings, the little pieces of wrapping paper that somehow did not get picked up on Christmas day and the new toys and gifts that were so feverishly opened on Christmas morning – they are all there to greet you with every step. Especially if you bought your child legos. In which case, it’s a random brick there to say “hello” every time you walk into your living room barefoot.

As I find myself torn between wanting to pack up Christmas and claim my living room back – and wanting to keep the warm feelings of Christmas day and celebrating Christ’s birth for just a few days more – I catch myself thinking about what it is I will remember and treasure from this Christmas. There’s the material stuff  – sure, like a new coat from my husband, a gardening belt from my mom, a new curling iron from my daughter, a coffee pot from my dad – but what is really going to stick with me (beyond curly hair, because I have certainly missed having a curling iron!) are the memories from Christmas day. It’s the way my daughter was thrilled that her little brother got her the mood lamp she’d hinted at so clearly in the store – and the vision of tucking her in that night with the lamp enveloped in her arms, under the covers. It’s the way my 9-year-old son paused in realization when he opened the wrapping to see a box to a remote-controlled helicopter he’d been wanting for months before excitedly screaming, “YOU GOT IT!!!!” It’s the way my four-year old boy waited oh so patiently for my husband to assemble his new snowmachine sled that he’d been eyeing every time we stepped foot into the store. And beyond those material things – my memories are filled with moments like taking the kids and their new sleds to the big sledding hill and flying down the hill with them, laughing all the way, seeing my daughter’s eyes light up when I told her she gets to make Christmas day dessert this year, and listening to my sweet little boy say his prayers that night and look at me in a way that said it really didn’t matter what he got for Christmas this year – he was happy.

My family was truly blessed with the gifts of this Christmas and most of those weren’t ones you’d find under our tree.  What kind of blessings and memories did Christmas bring you this year?

The Pop In Freak Out

Have you ever had to go back to the preschool/day care because you had forgotten something? You know, after you’ve dropped off your child and they are well entrenched in their daily activities that happen without your presence… and then, suddenly, there you are. You’ve already done the round of bye-bye kisses and hugs. And yet, now there you stand. You’re back. You’re doing the pop-in and they’re doing the freak out.

I get that kids thrive on routine and the parental pop-in is incredibly jarring for their little minds (and hearts.) But, man, oh man, nothing feels quite as horrible as watching your child completely melt down when they realize you aren’t taking them with you.

My kids went to their dad’s for the week yesterday. But, when they were dropped off at school & preschool, the bag of pillows & blankets for preschool nap time was accidentally left behind. So, I thought I’d drop it off on my way to work this morning. It’ll be easy, I thought. I’ll just sneak in and he won’t even see me, I bargained. Except, he did see me. His cubby was directly off to the right of where he was standing. I walked in. He didn’t notice me at first. I froze. You know, like in those wilderness shows (or Jurassic Park) where they tell you not to move because they can’t see you unless you move. Well, turns out my preschooler isn’t a T Rex. (I’m sure his big brother and sister would argue otherwise.) There was a pause of recognition as he looked up and locked eyes with me. Then, “Hi, mommy?” I squatted down for a hug. He wrapped his arms around me and before long, I felt the tears slipping from his cheek onto my neck. “Why are you crying?” I asked. “I want to go with you!” he cried. Oh, my poor baby boy. It’s not like they’re mean at daycare or anything. In fact, he likes it there. It was just the unusualness of it all.

Soon, I had to leave for work. I tried telling him all the consoling things like I’d see him tomorrow and he could call me tonight, but it was to no avail. The teacher had to pry him from my arms. She told him to come stand by the window so he could wave to me as I pulled out of the parking lot. As I walked quickly down the stairs and out to my truck – with my heavy heart slowing me down – I could still hear him crying. When I made it to the designated waving place, there he stood – pressed against the glass, with his face in his hands, sobbing. His teacher had him wave goodbye to me and I drove away feeling like the world’s meanest mommy.

How do you handle the pop-in? Surely, you’ve forgotten a lunch box or snow pants or something and had to run in “really quick” only to be emotionally pummeled for doing so. So, what do you do to make that transition easier for you both?



Mean Girls

There’s a reason that movie with Lindsay Lohan and Rachel McAdams is still watched religiously by some. It’s because it’s true. Girls can be mean. Boys too, yes, I know. But girls – particularly middle school girls – have this way of digging under another girl’s skin. They know what buttons to push. Which insecurities to target. And they can be just plain mean. Mean Girls should have been set in middle school. Except then it would be a horror movie, not a comedy.

My 12-year-old daughter is in her first year of middle school. So far this year she’s fallen face first into a bench in the locker room on the very first day (several people have asked me if she was pushed), been shoved to the ground and bullied by another girl on the school bus, and been called a “fuck face” by a teammate and once-upon-a-time friend of hers. Yes, it’s been an eventful year – and it’s not even Thanksgiving.

What I haven’t mentioned is how, in that same stretch of time, she’s been uplifted by friends who saw her saddened to lose a wrestling meet, encouraged by a friend who told her not to worry about bullies and invited over for a dance party in that same friend’s living room. There are mean girls. But, there are truly wonderful nice girls, too.

When my daughter called me during school earlier this week to tell me she overheard her teammate calling her a “fuck face” to another girl, I took the “kill her with kindness approach.” I told her how she shouldn’t let someone else’s actions impact her own character. I told her to continue being kind to this girl and, in the words of the great Taylor Swift, to “shake it off.” So far so good.

Middle school was rough for a dork like me. I had the big glasses, pulled up over your belly button pants and was 100% oblivious to the “beauty” needs other girls my age were struggling with. So, I made friends with other friends like me. Cue the Island of Misfit Toys theme… Yes, Perks of Being a Wallflower had it right. The trick was to find others who weren’t necessarily just like me – but liked me for the dork that I was. The dork that was okay with laughing at myself – better to point out your own flaws than to have a bully do it for you.

Mean girls aren’t going anywhere. In fact, the original  just celebrated its 10 year anniversary last month. A reunion of mean girls. There’s enough material there to bring you sequels in the vein of the “Halloween” movies for years and decades to come.

What do you tell your kids when they encounter mean girls (or boys)?


Going Nuclear in the Flu Fight

It was in my house. It was in my blog. It was all over my news feed. The enemy is here. The FLU. Maybe you have it. Maybe it’s your kid suffering through it. The flu cares not for its victims. It only wants to take you out.

The recourse? Take action. We’re going to fight this flu. And we are going to win. Here’s our plan of attack:

  • Fill your canteen, soldier. Water or any other fluids. Push ‘em.
  • Report for R&R. Not just laying on the couch watching TV. Actually sleep.
  • Stock up on ammo. Essential oils. If you’ve got ‘em, use ‘em.
  • The secret weapon is honey. Down a spoonful to kick the cough.
  • Take the fight to the enemy lines – wash your hands.

Troops – share your battle strategies. What can we do to take the flu down?



The Joke’s on the Jack-o-lantern

It was a long weekend. Fun for the most part, but Sunday was the longest day I’ve had in a while.

We’d gone out to our cabin for the weekend. Fresh air. Fun. Manual labor. It’s typically a good time had by all. Saturday, my youngest son and I were outside, dragging downed trees from the woods to use in a bonfire. Amazing what kind of manual labor children (okay, adults too) will volunteer for when there’s even the slightest chance of smores on the horizon. After we’d pulled a few trees around, my little guy asked if he could go inside and lay down. Yep, that would be your first red flag.

My husband and I and our 9-year-old finished up outside as the other kids played a vicious game of Alaska Edition Monopoly inside. After a while, it was time to walk two houses down to our neighbors’ house for dinner. My daughter said, “Mom, he’s not feeling good. He’s breathing really fast and he feels warm.” Red flag #2. We thought maybe he was just warm from his nap. We went to our friends’ place for dinner. He didn’t want to eat. He said his stomach hurt. Red flag #3. He laid down on the couch and watched a movie. He did eat an otter pop and later, after seeing his brother and sister enjoying one, requested an ice cream sandwich. At this point, it appeared he was on the mend.  We went home and tucked the kids into bed. I tried to simultaneously sleep with one eye open and get as much good sleep as I could get in, knowing we were headed for a long night.

Hours later, I heard him coughing and then crying for me. I scooped him up and carried him downstairs. He felt hot and he was very tired. We tried to go back to sleep. Tried. Little moans would sneak out of him as he snuggled into my chest. His little 4-year-old body was working hard to fend off whatever nasty bugs were inside him. His sister, armed with a comic book and a headlamp, sat next to us on the couch, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

When it was finally morning, we attempted to cat-nap on the couch while everyone else got on with the day. Our neighbor offered a thermometer and after seeing the reading – 103 – we decided to pack up early and head home.

All the kids were excited to go to the Harvest Festival at our church. They’d been looking forward to costumes and candy all week long. My husband and the two big kids got ready while our youngest slept on the couch. They were about to leave without us when he suddenly woke up. (Suddenly = big brother and sister loudly getting ready while complaining to me that not waking him and telling him where they were going was equal to lying to him and then, using our own mantra against us, saying, “we don’t lie in this house.”) He wanted to know what was happening and he said he really wanted to go. We decided we’d drive there, grab him some candy and then go home.

We loaded up into the car and were on the exit ramp to the church when, “Mommy, my tummy hurts!” suddenly changed to a splashing sound, followed by the “EWWW!!!” of his 12-year-old sister, who was sitting next to him, squarely in the splash zone. I’d been talking on the phone with my dad at that exact moment, so I’m pretty sure the end of the conversation sounded a lot like this, “Honey, it’s okay. OH! Um, Dad? Dad! I gotta go. Oh, honey…”

Now let me pause for a moment to better describe this scene to you. My husband was at the wheel of what I jokingly refer to as his “creeper van.” (It has tinted windows and you probably wouldn’t be surprised at all if he rolled down his window and offered you candy…) We are dressed as a couple of hippies. No, really. Rose colored glasses and everything. I had a bandana on, clip-on peace symbol earings and a peace necklace. The kids were holding their jack-o-lanterns in their laps, ready to get their costumes on and get some candy. As I spun around to check on my preschooler and contain the damage, I had a flash of realization as to what this might look like for anyone driving by at that exact moment, especially if it were a police officer.

jackolantern barf

When I had turned around in my seat, leaning over the headrest to tend to him, I saw he’d already covered his coat, pajama pants and boots. I grabbed the first thing I could reach – my husband’s fleece – and shoved it under his target. (Sorry, honey.) When I realized that wasn’t going to contain it (it’s amazing how much can come up considering the small size and his stomach and the little he’d actually eaten), I grabbed the jack-o-lantern candy pail from his hands and placed it under his mouth. This was definitely more trick than treat.

At this point, we turned the van around and started to head home. Our 12 and 9-year-old instantly started getting upset, not because they were near a small vomiting child or because they were concerned for his wellbeing. No, they were mad they wouldn’t be attending the Harvest Festival. My daughter, being the oldest of the three, took it better than the 9-year-old. I imagine it’s because after many years of being the big sister, she’s used to some calamity bringing an end to the planned-for-fun. But, the 9-year-old… for him this was heartbreaking. We started giving him the speech about having some compassion for his little brother and then I stopped mid-sentence, picked up the phone and called grandma. She came to the house, picked up the two big kids and saved the day. She even delivered dinner later.

At bed time last night, my daughter turned to me and said she was sorry I didn’t get to volunteer at the church. It was very sweet.  Moments after that very kind exchange, I crawled directly into bed, waking just a few hours later to repeat the prior night all over again. His temp was back to 103. I tried giving him something to bring the fever down, which he instantly threw back up. It was another long night.

Now he sleeps. So far, his fever is somewhat down. We have a doctor’s appointment in just shy of two hours. He’ll probably be running through the pediatrician’s office, acting like nothing’s wrong with him. And that will be just fine by me. Considering he’s moaning again on the couch. Gotta run and find my jack-o-lantern…




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