Wren stretching from home plate for a ball

Raws Finish Strong

Not that long ago, I read an article about having a family motto. This particular article recommended that the kids should be part of it, but eh, that’s was enlightened parents do. Me, not so much. I’d been using “Raws Finish Strong” as words in our house regularly. They hear it in their sleep probably.

As trite as it may be and as hooky as my kids think it is, I think this matters. It sets the tone for what is and is not acceptable. I hope that when it’s needed, it’s something they whisper to themselves when they are up to bat or about to swim a race, or take that standardized test.

Whatever you start, you finish, and you finish all in. I do not care if you are the best on the field, on the court, in the pool, or in the classroom. You will finish strong because that is what we do. And, on average I’d say my kids are mostly strong finishers. We don’t talk about being winners because that’s not always within our control. Maybe we win the game, the championship or first place in the meet. Or maybe not. The other team may be better, the other players may have better bats, the math be hard. The effort is what we control, and that is the focus.

Do we celebrate great report cards, a great win, or a spelling bee win? Sure. But we make sure to focus on the effort that got us the “A”, the “win”! “Great job, all those hours at the kitchen table with the math book paid off”, “the win must feel so good after all the time you spent on the diamond with your team”. “Wow, that time in the pool is helping!” Tying the victory to the effort is important to establish that link.

We also acknowledge that even if we didn’t win, get straight As, etc, that the effort is the important key. Bring me home a C that you worked your butt off for? Cool. Great job. Bring me a C that you didn’t try? We’re gonna be chatting about the effort. A game without hits? But you swung at strikes, worked hard in the field, and cheered your team? Cool. Love watching you play. Didn’t swing at strikes, blamed the ump? We’re going to talk. If you can’t look at me and say you did your best and “finished strong”, you didn’t meet the criteria (that day) for our family. And look, I get it. Our best every day isn’t the equivalent to yesterday’s best. Some days all we have to give is just not what we had last time. But you will finish strong because you are a Raw and you wear my name on your back.

Why do I say you wear my name on your back? Stay tuned, I’ll have another blog topic on that.






Ask for help

In December, I ran a lot. I ran high mileage (for me), and consistently. I did fantastic, and things were going my way. Then, reality hit. It’s cold in MN in January. Cold. And it feels dark all day. The little sun I get is the sun that comes through the dark and dreary clouds at the window behind my back. So – in January, I probably ran a total of 5 times. February was definitely going that way…

I threw myself one heck of a pity party. Poor me, woe is me. I can’t run, it’s too hard, I’m too out of shape now, I don’t wanna. You name the excuse, I had it, I used it.

I got sick of my own pity party this week. On Monday, I put out on a local running group that I was desperate for help. I need to run in the morning or I just won’t. My running buddy left and moved (how dare she?). I’m a turtle, although the average turtle with a sprained hamstring could probably out run me.

I was very specific in the help I needed. I needed someone to run in my town. I needed someone to run in my town at 5:30am (give or take). I needed someone to either meet me and then run their own pace, or to meet and turtle it with me.

Within minutes, I had two takers. That should be repeated: within minutes of saying “I need this help”, I had two takers. I didn’t know either of them personally, but both were willing to help me. Now – I’ll say they also had similar goals, so we’re working together on similar goals. The thing about my “ask for help”. It was asked of the right group (a momma’s running group), with very specific needs (when, where and how to help), and possibly at the right time (I can’t control that).

I can’t tell you often I’ve told my girls “ask for help, don’t whine, don’t lie about why you got it wrong, etc. If you need help, ask”. But, we’ve learned as adults that “asking for help” is the equivalent of “showing a weakness” as though having weakness is somehow bad. It’s screwy logic and I’m not exactly sure how we got here.

It’s not a long blog, it’s just a bit of a reminder that asking for help often yields the help you need. Ask and it shall be given unto you.

And now – I need $1 million dollars, a personal chef, and a new car… (I’ll let you know if that worked!)

Stomach Flu

The  stomach flu destroyed our family this week, and I got to thinking there should be a blog in here. The first draft was a whiny complain-y, crappy blog. So I left it alone. Then I thought about explaining my experience and then I realized that any parent has likely already been there/done that/bought the t-shirt. (and washed it a million times)

So instead, I’ll go for “the stomach flu reminded me of what I’m grateful for”…

  1. I get to go to work. That’s right. I might be on way less sleep than I’d prefer. And I might have not been super appreciated yesterday (or been all that appreciative of others yesterday). But this morning when several kids were feeling better, and the husband wasn’t his normal self, and the 2 year old was in overdrive because she never got sick, and got plenty of sleep, I left. I kissed them all good bye and left. (Well, I took one to school because it was ridiculously cold again and she still has limited energy/zest for life, but she’s fine). I walked out the door knowing that I got to leave the house for 8 or so hours. And no one, but no one was going to ask me to do anything remotely disgusting. Plus, I work for a company where the people told me yesterday “they’d handle it” while I tried to handle the family. No criticism that I didn’t make it in or didn’t stay online all day. (I did try to do some work yesterday, but that went by the wayside very quickly).
  2. My washing machine works. It was dicey earlier in the year, but yesterday, we washed all bedding/sheets/clothes/towels/blankets/fabrics of any kind. If someone who was sick so much as looked at a fabric, it was washed yesterday. Which is to say that we did a crap ton of laundry. I honestly don’t know what we would have done if that wasn’t working. As the only adult well enough to go to the laundromat, and the only kid well enough was 2, it would have not ended well. Hooray for in house washing machines! (and dryers).
  3. My husband taking the dogs out twice a day. I take the dogs out in the morning, and then he and the girls get the dogs out once in the afternoon and he does their night routine. I’ve had to be out in the bitter cold doing more than I would like with my monsters (who may or may not be good listeners and smart enough to come in when they are done because it’s -10 before windchill). And while I love these monsters – I sure wish it wasn’t that freaking cold when I’m already cozy for the night.
  4. My kids’ and husband’s health. They are actually quite healthy. We’ve had few missed school days this year due to illnesses (particularly from the littles in school). We have had few missed opportunities of other activities due to illnesses. For me, my kidlets are so healthy it can really mess with our world when they get sick.
  5. My ‘baby’ is over 2. Because she’s not a baby, she’s more self sufficient. As a rule – that helps. She could sit at the table and eat dinner while I was caring for a sick sister, and grandma was cleaning something else, and daddy was on the floor in the bathroom. Bits was content to eat dinner for a bit by herself. Eventually we were dealing with her wanting down, but she could feed herself so the rest of us could do what needed to happen. I love my kids, but being out of the baby stage makes nearly everything easier. (We won’t discuss the terrible twos or terrifying threes in this context). Also – my older two ‘littles’ were able to do some of the work of being sick on their own, too. This stage is easier than the time of the stomach flu when they were 4 months, 2, and 5.
  6. And last, but certainly not least – my mom. My mom was physically present (although she probably wished she weren’t) for the worst of the sickness. She helped get dinner on the table and watched some children while I was dealing with others and/or while Mike couldn’t deal with them. She helped do laundry and clean the kitchen, and played with kids, and so forth. I just (selfishly) wish that Dad was also here. It was his job while I was growing up to deal with the stomach bugs, and I so wish that were true…

We are all better now. Peanut greeted me Friday with a big smile and “I feel great, Mommy!” This, this is how my mornings should start!

Going to church

I decided that I needed to be a better role model and make church consistently. And, that my daughters should join me. I figured the first day of advent is a good time to start. Mike is not Catholic (or practicing at least), so it was my 7, 3, and 2 year olds and myself off to church. My girls are not the best at going, but I expected Peanut, at least, to behave. She hits church once a week at school, and she gets the routine. In self-defense, I planned to be there early enough to get the last pew. And that was the last thing that went right.

As we’re waiting in a calm, quiet church, Bug hops up on the kneeler and proceeds to shake her money maker, while loudly proclaiming she’s shaking her booty. Finally calm her down, and I kneel to pray for a second. And I pray for patience and calmness. Not sure who God gifted with those prayers, but myself and my kids were not very patient or calm.

At about this time, they start what I think to be the opening hymn, and I say “girls, it’s starting”. They finish the hymn, and the leader says “We have a problem. We are missing a priest. We’ll sing another song, and hope one shows up.” At this point I remember God has a sense of humor. Clearly, the lesson in patience was also going to take on a sense of the ridiculous. (Breathe, Erin, breathe).

Another song in, and the priest comes sprinting in. (Or a fast walk, looking dignified while trying to adjust robes and get the show on the road). An announcement is made that he is not our expected priest, but willing to pinch hit. From the back he sends a thumbs up, and we begin.

By now, both little girls are nowhere near defined by calm. More like wild cats kept trapped in a cage (or pew). Peanut is happily telling her sisters that they cannot leave the pew. They are not so happily taking the news. Bits feints left and goes right, right out the pew. I leap Bug, move Peanut and snag Bits just before she goes swimming in the baptismal fountain. (fortunately, the fountain is above her head, so I have an exra second to grab her. (Did I mention this was during the Gospel so everyone can hear her?) The indignity of getting caught causes her to chuck her pacifier. These don’t just land. Oh no, the land and roll. The usher sees me trying to figure out how to hold her and grab the pacifier under the pew, behind some boxes. The gentleman takes pity on us and crawls between boxes and under the pew for me. Bug now makes a break for it as well. I catch her by the arm, she cries as though I’ve beaten her. (I snagged her arm, that’s it, I promise, and given the volume of noise we’re making, I’m pretty sure there’s people who saw me not abuse her.) (He, he, whooo, he he whooo – deep breathing)

Bits then decides to start taking apart the diaper bag (who taught her zippers?)… Extra clothes go a-flying, and then out came Bug’s extra underwear which Bits proudly shouted out. Then, the dreaded word “snack” begins to be shouted. Yikes!!! I have no snack. But problem solved. Bits finds crackers from a previous family and begins snarf before I can leap over and around the other two who have now conspired (I’m sure of it) to prevent me from taking those out of her mouth.

After more incidents of similar vein (from arguing over Doc McStuffins and Stuffy), to vying over who has the aisle seat, to finding the pacifier that had gone over 4 pews in front of us,  we get to communion. The second grader isn’t quite old enough to get communion (give us 7 months), so I ask her to sit and pray while we go up. I heft the 2 year old up, and snag the 3 year old by her collar. We begin the long slow walk up to the front for communion. Bits demands to walk. Bug is walking at her snail’s pace which happens to be mostly appropriate, but her drunken sailor walk nearly takes out a few elderly and their canes on our way through. (Tight aisles, what can I say). We return and begin to get coats and hats and scarves and mittens on. I take my eyes off Bits for a split second, and there went the bulletins that had been hanging off the back of our pew. To the mom of the little girl who was behaving, thanks. The help picking up the bulletins was almost worth the glares that seemed to say “parent them, would you?”. (I swear, I focused more on them than on the mass… Not sure if that’s good or bad.)

After an hour plus of sitting in church (late start made us a go a little over), my take away was “watch”. Watch for the coming of the Lord (or in my case, watch your daughters scatter bulletins everywhere, throw underwear, find someone else’s old food, book it down the aisle, and generally cause mayhem).

For those of you wondering why I hadn’t been taking my kids to church regularly, and thinking I was owed this experience, you are right. I was. Look for us in the back of the church again next week, but I might have reinforcements… My mother-in-law is scheduled to be here to celebrate a birthday, so one more set of hands might help…


For her birthday, Bug got a miniature teeter-totter that also spins… Oh, the excitement. It finally got warm enough after this winter, so Mike set it up. Bug loves it and enjoys anyone who will teeter with her. Bits likes to do it, too, so she’s usually running across the lawn to get to it with her sister. However, her attention span isn’t the same as Bug’s so she usually gets off after a few ups and downs.

Last time, as soon as she started to look bored, Bug would ask her Peanut to come over and teeter totter with her. Immediately Bits would get right back on. She’d teeter for a minute, start to get off, Bug would ask for her big sister, and we’d start all over. Finally Bug figured out to wait until Bits was all the way off and walking away before she asked. Didn’t matter. Bits came running back over and threw an amazing fit… Peanut said “I’m off. This is so not worth it.

”  June 2014 618 June 2014 619

How dare you get on after I get off.

How dare you get on after I get off.