Happy 65-Month Birthday, Blog. I Got You a Shiny New Name!

I started writing this blog in March 2006 when my life was in the throes of “about to.” I was about to be promoted. I was about to write a second book. I was about to buy a house. I was about to become a mother.

Blissfully ignorant of all that, I started I’m Just Sayin’ at the urging of friends and a few family members who assured me they’d love to hear about what my husband and I were doing in coastal South Carolina. I believe a few of those early promisers are still around today. (Hi Mom!)

Over these last few years, however, my life has redefined the blog. I’ve watched my boys grow from tiny fluttering blips on the ultrasound screen to fully formed humans who can climb to the top of the jungle gym and declare “I can see the whole world from up here!” And the front-row seat to such awesomeness has given me writing inspiration like no other.

Yet even as my personal blog began to morph into a mom blog, I thought I should keep it separate from my other website, the one I’d created to showcase the professional me. But, as any source I’ve interviewed on the phone these last four years who has had to listen to a crying baby, a demanding toddler or a barking dog in the background can attest, the professional and personal sides of my life downright refuse to be separated, despite my best intentions.

So I created this new site, one that would be both a home to my blog and my other work. And I’ve taken the final leap from random blog to parenting blog with a new name: Holding the Strings.

I’d like to say I’m Just Sayin’ will be missed, but really it isn’t even a phrase I use anymore. (My oft-repeated phrases these days are ones like “Stop! Touching! Your brother!” and “Don’tdon’tdon’tdon’tdon’tdon’tdoaaaaaagh!”) If you’ve been reading since the beginning (Hi sis!), thank you from the bottom of my heart. If you’re new here make yourself at home, and come back again.

My goal is to update this blog more frequently than in the past. But when I fail to do that, please refer to the hierarchy noted in the tagline.

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The Work-From-Home Mom’s Desk Calendar Alternative

When the source I’d been trying to reach all day long finally called back to schedule a phone interview with me, I had no laptop handy in which to type the details. 
I had no pad of paper or pen. 
I had no idea how to type a note on my phone while talking to her. 
I had no desk calendar, secretary, or memory left to rely on.
Luckily my roaming “office” is wherever my kids are at the moment, and my roaming office “supplies” are whatever my kids happen to be using. 
Nobody call me at 9. I’ll be busy talking to a NYT best-selling author, and the boys will be thoroughly and silently engrossed in “Sesame Street.” OK only one of those is true.

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Chew on That?!

My niece Cora, who’s 7, has four missing front teeth. She is very proud of her increasingly toothless smile, and makes her mom fire up Skype each time she loses another one so she can show off the new hole in her grin. Kostyn saw Cora last month but never mentioned her Jack-O-Lantern appearance until today.

He was being silly on the way home from the grocery store, saying he was so hungry he was going to eat the store. And then he said he was going to eat a house, eat the world, eat that tree, etc. So when he said “I’m going to eat the car,” I challenged him.

“Eat the car?! I don’t know; the tires would be pretty chewy. Are you sure you could eat the car?”

He giggled. “Yes! I’m going to eat the car.”

“I think if you ate the car you’d break your teeth,” I said. “Then you’d have no teeth!”

Without skipping a beat he said, “I’d be like Cora!”

I chuckled and said, “Yes, like Cora.”

He paused for a few seconds, then quietly asked: “Did she eat a car?”

My sweet niece Cora, rockin’ the look favored by hockey goalies who don’t wear cages.

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Converting a Kid to Vegetables, One Purple Radish at a Time

I need help.

(Pausing here to give friends and family time for their inevitable jokes.)

Done? Today I need very specific help, the kind of help I’d get from Pooh’s friend Rabbit if he existed. If I could knock on his rabbit hole door or find him in his garden tending to the cabbage and whatnot, I would introduce myself and ask him for advice.

“Please tell me,” I’d say, “what to do with radishes.”

And not just what to do with them, but how to cook them in such a way that delights and entices a 3-year-old boy who refuses to eat any vegetable except raw baby carrots. (SEE, RABBIT, YOU’RE THE PERFECT MAMMAL FOR THE JOB!) Incidentally, the same child also refuses to eat any meat except his father’s homemade meatballs, and then “only the hard parts” around the edges that have been fried to a garlicy crisp in olive oil. (OK, he’ll eat the occasional hot dog, bacon slice and Chicken McNugget, but we can’t really count those as meat now can we?)

He’s a fantastic fruit eater, I’ll give him that, but veggies he won’t touch. Not even potatoes, sliced and fried, with ketchup. So imagine my shock and awe when he picked up a clump of radishes in the grocery store the other day and said “I want these.”

“What?” I asked, barely paying attention, busy searching for the fresh basil.

“These. What are these? I want to try them,” he said, thrusting them at me, then scampering off to fondle and drop as many peppers as he could.

“These are radishes,” I said as I honest-to-God CHECKED THE LABEL TO MAKE SURE, as these radishes were quite a bit more colorful than I thought radishes normally were but let’s be honest I’ve never bought a radish before, not even when a recipe I was making called for radishes. Turns out these radishes are more colorful; they’re “Easter Egg Radishes,” a clump of brilliant purple and pink and white and red root vegetables I had absolutely no idea what to do with.

My first instinct was to put them back. He’s never going to eat these, and in two minutes he’s going to forget he even picked them up, I thought.

“Um, Kostyn, are you sure you want these, or are you just pretending?” I asked. He didn’t reply, and I placed them back on the shelf and went over to the peppers instead. “You want to help me pick some peppers, we can grill them, they’re really yummy.”

“No, Mommy, I want those.” He pointed back to the radishes. I walked back over and picked them up.

“These are radishes, honey. You’ve never had them before. Would you really like to try them?” I said. “If I buy them I want you to try them, OK?”

“Yes I will I will I will” he said in that dismissive way that a child says something when he just wants the parent to stop talking already and move on. I was still doubtful that he’d eat them, and there was no price listed for these pretty puppies, but I felt I had no choice but to buy them. I wasn’t about to deny the child the only vegetable he’d ever been inclined to put in his mouth, no matter how fleeting that desire may be.

So they’re here now. In my fridge. (They should be refrigerated, yes?) They’re just staring at me each day as I ponder what to do with them. Should I cook them at all, or just slice them raw? I’m sure I could find several quality recipes for radishes online, but I want to do something with these things I know someone out there has actually made and a child has actually eaten and liked. This could be a moment here, people. This could be the Vegetable That Made Kostyn Stop Refusing All Vegetables. It could be his Green Eggs and Ham! “Try them! Try them and you may. Try them and you may, I say!”

So since I can’t ask Rabbit I thought I’d ask you, as many of you are parents and most of you are far more culinarily inclined than I am. I mean we’re talking about radishes here, not some exotic vegetable nobody’s ever heard of. I’m just really that lame in the kitchen, which brings me full circle, back to the part where I need help: 

How should I “wow” my son with these colorful radishes?

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Best Part of My Day: A Shocking Discovery

A couple weeks ago I read a topic prompt for bloggers that asked, “What’s the best event in your day?” The first thing that popped into my head shocked me, because it does not involve dark chocolate, wine, or peace and quiet. In fact it is the moment in my day that usually elicits either an energy-mustering sigh or a muttered curse word.

It’s the moment my boys wake up from their naps.

I know, right? Shocking. There’s just something about the way they look when they come trudging down the stairs, with their hair disheveled and their cheeks flushed from the warm blankets. It’s like their eyes grow three sizes in their sleep and the morning’s silly defeats are wiped away from their innocent faces. Most of the time they come to me so snuggly and smiley, so genuinely happy to see my face … it’s simply the best part of my day.

I think the end of nap time also somehow signals a “Round 2” in my brain. It’s like a reset button, wiping away the silly defeats from MY morning and giving me another go at this parenting gig. In that moment I don’t have to nag them to eat their dinner or scold them for not picking up their toys. I just get to ask them how they slept and what they dreamed and what they’d like to eat for a snack. In those few precious moments before they wake up enough to remember how to whine, fight and push my buttons, it’s all sweetness and light.

All of that together makes the end* of nap time somehow, miraculously, the best event in my day. So when Kostyn came bounding downstairs and running into my arms this afternoon with a huge smile on his face after an extra-long nap, I cuddled him on my lap on the floor and told him about the best part of my day.

“You know what my favorite part of my whole day is?”
“What?” he asked, his eyes growing wider with anticipation.  
“It’s the moment you wake up from your nap and I see your smiling face again!” I said, kissing his big round cheeks. “I miss you when you’re sleeping!”
He closed his eyes for a minute and smiled, then popped them open. “You know what my favorite part of my day is?” he asked.
“No, what?”
“It’s when I wake up from my nap and I come down and see you smiling at me,” he said, a grin from ear to ear.
“Really?” I hugged him tighter, “Really?”
“Yes!” he said, his whole face lit up. “I love when you smile at me. I love your smile!”

Sweetness and light, people. It’s the best part of my day.

*: The blissfully silent hour and a half leading up to that moment is a very, very, very close second.

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