I Love a Robot

Robot Painting

Sometimes everything falls into place and I am exactly the kind of mom I want to be. The kind of mom I imagined I’d be before reality and everyday life slammed into my dreams, knocking the wind out of their beautifully painted sails. The kind of mom my heart still longs to be…

This week it happened while I made my husband install a new mailbox in front of our house. We had a… broke-down un-palace of a mailbox. The neighbors all had the fancy-pants Rubbermaid mailboxes. We stuck out like a sore thumb. So we broke down and became, as my dad said, Suburbanites. Our mailbox matches. But that wasn’t what made me a good mom.

The boys discovered the box the mailbox came in and, in short order, tossed it over their heads, pretending to be robots.

A boy and his gun-wielding robot.

In an instant, I had a flash of painting the robot. Me, the un-crafter. The anti-crafter. I had a vision of sitting with my boys in the yard and painting up the robot with brightly colored paints. I mentioned it to them. “Maybe if we have a good day tomorrow, we can paint that robot after dinner.” They were excited. I was excited.

The day was good. After dinner, I actually remembered where our poster paint was stored even after the move. I quickly found seven of our eight big paint brushes. The weather was playing along nicely — not too hot, a cool breeze. I asked the boys to stay inside as I set everything up, humming along as I lined up tubes of paint next to the box, balancing one brush per color precariously on top of each tube. I’m sure I looked a sight to the neighbors, most of whom fall in the gap between my parents’ and my grandparents’ ages. I think they’ve accepted our “young” family’s quirks and oddities, but I’m sure they stand at the window and think, “What’s she up to now?”

The boys came rushing out, no longer able to control their excitement as they stood at the living room window, watching me get things together for them. I showed them the paint, pointed to the blank canvas of our tall robot and let them have at it. They started to argue over the same color, almost immediately. Somewhere I found my calm voice and pointed out that there were seven colors; surely they could find one of their own, use it for awhile, and switch off.

And a hush came over the yard as the three of us sat and started painting.

Robot Painting


Briefly, of course. Our oldest son has a tendency to talk — non-stop, to make absolutely everything a lengthy discussion. What kind of paint is this? What happens if the temperature gauge you are painting over there, Mommy, would get too high? Would it explode? Or just catch on fire? Do we really need another triangle button? I know, let’s paint another gauge down here and make that one be the explosion gauge. And on and on and on. Our younger son, mostly wanted whatever paint brush and color I was using, awed by my “artistic ability.” Mainly I just made geometric designs and painted corners and had a blast. I handed over my brush a billion and one times, patiently, accepting whatever brush he had been painting something equally awesome at his place along our robot.

Robot Painting

Our fun began to wind down right as a big gust of wind came along. I looked up, surprised to see that the sky had gotten darker. We had been so in the moment, enjoying the time so completely, that we missed the weather turning. We’re a little weather-gun-shy right now, so we began running around the yard and cleaning up. LittleBrother managed to collect all of the paint brushes while BigBrother helped me screw the lids on the poster paint and put them in the box. No arguing. No fussing. No yelling by me. Soon we were all safely in the garage, setting our robot down to dry.

The next day, their excitement could hardly be contained, bubbling over as they told their Daddy about their robot. I smiled into my cup of coffee, feeling as if I had accomplished something magical, something beautiful. I had made one perfect little memory.

BigBrother Robot

We made a robot.

LittleBrother Robot

He is already ripped and torn and beyond well-loved, less than a week later. But he remains an accomplishment of mine. A moment in time that I will cling to when they don’t want to hang out and paint in the front yard with me anymore.


I will always love that robot.


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Life Is Better Shared — with Friends! And Drinks! At Applebee’s! (+Giveaway)

Summer is a hard time for moms who are friends. We’re busy hanging out with our kids and managing their summer schedules. Crazy life.

But like Applebee’s, I believe that Life is Better Shared. And since I haven’t had a Girls’ Night Out in quite some time, last week before we left for vacation I sent a text message to a number of friends, hoping they could get together — on short notice — at Applebee’s.

Applebee’s is a great place to meet friends, but they also value the power of social media. Find them on Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube and Tumblr to see how they emphasize Life is Better Shared!

I feared they would already have plans; texting on a Tuesday for a Friday isn’t really a lot of notice for busy moms. The text messages started flying back: “Yes!” “Oh my god, I need a night out!” “See you then!” I’m sure it helped that I said I was paying!

Applebee's Photos

We had a lovely time together. We had some lovely cocktails — I remember the Bahama Mama, the lemonade name and the Strawberry Mojito as the ones I tasted since we passed them around for tastes. I would drink any of those three again… right now. So good!

Applebee's Photos


We also went hog-wild with appetizers. My favorite three were the Spinach Artichoke Dip, the Queso Blanco and — the table’s absolute favorite — Chicken Wonton Tacos. Honestly, the next time I make it to Applebee’s, I think I might order that as a meal. They were so delicious that we had to pass around the last one, taking bites, because we couldn’t agree on whoever got the last one. Amazing.

Applebee's Photos

Oh, and uh, we may have indulged in some Hot Fudge Shooters for dessert. Shooters don’t have alcohol. Just lots and lots of amazing ice cream. And did I say hot fudge?

Applebee's Photos

Food aside, we had such a great time at Applebee’s. We talked — a lot. We caught up on everything that’s gone on in our lives since we saw each other last.

There were fun topics: summer plans, vacation, how old and new relationships are going. There were heavy topics; adoption, divorce, back injuries. We’re not all gloom and doom. We laughed a lot. I love my friends and a chance together with good food and drinks. It was a blast. I loved that it wasn’t too loud in the restaurant so we could hear each other — though our noisy laughter might have made it hard for others to hear each other. Apologies to those around us!

Yay friends! @fouragainsttwo @2princessmama
Two of my good friends!

So now I want to know: When’s the last time you had a girls’ night out?Answer the question via comments to be entered for a chance to win a $150 Applebee’s gift card.

No duplicate comments.
You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:
a) Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
b) Tweet about this promotion and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
c) Blog about this promotion and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
d) For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.
This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.
The Official Rules are available here.
This sweepstakes runs from 7/16/12 – 8/3/12.
Be sure to visit the Applebee’s Life Is Better Shared page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ reviews and find more chances to win!

I Hope This Is Enough

They grew while they were gone.

I know. All parents say that upon returning to their children. “I think you’ve grown!” But they did. I know they did. I can see it with my own eyes.

I suppose it’s been happening for quite some time now, not just in the past week. The baby is melting off of their faces, helped along by a summer of non-stop activity, running, biking, swimming, laughing, movement. They never stop. It never ends. They go. I follow. They keep running. I sweat. And on and on.

They’re changing.

They’re changing slowly, in that the foot-stomping near-tantrums when I pick them up from the babysitter are still a thing, despite repeated conversations about their lack of necessity. They’re changing slowly, in that mealtime remains less about discussing our days and more about, “Please quit dawdling. And making inappropriate fart jokes at the table.” They’re changing slowly in that they still, thank God, want to cuddle with Mommy.


But they’re changing so quickly. Tonight, like last night, BigBrother read two books by himself after we said our prayers and goodnights and I love yous and so on and so forth. He picked one and I picked one, and off a-reading he went. They’re changing so quickly, in that LittleBrother seems to have chosen a hand to write with — and color in the lines with — and it’s not his left hand. They’re changing so quickly that their beds were made before we left for the babysitter this morning. And I didn’t do it.

They sound like the same children. And they are. But they’re different. They’re growing, changing. And I get that. I accept that. I want that. But oh, it feels too fast. Too slow. Too much of the both ways. I don’t know how to feel, when to wish for time to speed up (other than at the forsaken dinner table) and when to wish for it to slow down. I suppose it all evens out in the end, that the fast and the slow and the good and the bad and everything else that falls in the in between come together and equal out to the entirety of their childhood.

I hope that’s enough. For them.

Big Kids

Big Kids

For me.