Monday, September 10, 2012

National Brothers Week? What?

I was unaware it existed, this "National Brothers Week", but I just saw it on Facebook so it must be true. I'm certainly not against honoring my brother for a whole week. He IS one of my favorite people in the world.
So,,,,,in honor of my brother on the first day of National Brothers Week, I'd like to quote an entry from my gratitude journal. I wrote it on his birthday this year.
May 4th, 2012
Thirty-three years ago today I became a my brother. Yes I know that sounds strange but let me explain. My brother was my first taste of how intensely a mother loves her child. I felt it unexpectedly at the age of 5 when Brian came home. It wasn't immediate. Not at all. I did not want a new baby at our house. I was the baby. I still remember dragging my feet down the corridor of the hospital a good 20 yards behind the rest of the family. Pouting, hoping to be noticed, waiting for someone to say, "Amy, what's wrong?" No one did. I saw him through the glass of the nursery. He didn't look like anything too special to me. My sisters and I had to stay with neighbors while my mom was in the hospital. The Walters. They had two boys. I hated boys. I couldn't even use the bathroom at their house because I was afraid a stupid boy would walk in. And here my mom was going to bring a baby boy to our house.
My next memory was of me sitting in the big orange flowered chair in our living room. It was my turn to hold the new baby. I remember feeling quite surprised at the smile that came to my face as he held on tight to my finger. My parents gushed at how much he loved me already and what a great big sister I was going to be.
I'm not exactly sure when he became mine. The moment in the orange chair definitely changed things but I was still jealous. He was always in my mom's arms stealing away her attention. But the older he got, the more he became a little person who adored his big sister. We shared a room and he learned how to escape his crib even before he could walk (he climbed everything, the door jams, the fridge, the fireplace). As soon as my parents said good night, he would climb out of the crib and come over to my bed wanting to sleep with me. A moment of hesitation was just for show. My answer was always yes. Every night I prayed for his safety and I worried about him constantly. I remember coming home from school one day after the fire department came to talk about fire safety. I went through all the scenarios in my head about how to get my brother out of the house in case of a fire. In bed that night I hugged him extra tight feeling sick to my stomach at the thought of anything happening to him.  He was my best friend and constant playmate. We would tie a bunch of laundry baskets together and make boats, pretending the carpet was the water. We played "Restaurant" and I was always the customer (just one example of how I learned to manipulate him). We drew roads in the carpet and played matchbox cars for hours and hours. Fisher Price toy towns would be set up all over the living room for days on end.
We obviously don't play like that anymore (unless our children are around and we can justify it) but Brian has continued to be a best friend throughout life. It was Brian who gave me away to Brad on my wedding day (you know, because men own just kidding, it was because our dad had died). After Brad and I got married, Brian lived in our basement while he was going to school in Bozeman and we would regularly go to lunch at Spanish Peaks, go on hikes up to the 'M', and ride our bikes up to Peets Hill (my job was quite, um, flexible).  He lives in Colorado now with his lovely wife, Amber and their two perfect kids, Sophie and Noah. We still see each other a lot and I talk to him as much as possible but it is never enough.
I've always used my own childhood memories as material during story time with my my brother has often been one of the main characters. That said, one night when I was snuggling my son, Fynn, I told him that he is my favorite boy in the entire world. He looked at me surprised and said, "Me? I always thought your favorite boy was Uncle Brian!"
Happy National Brothers Week, Brian. You're [one of] my favorite boy[s] in the whole world.

Brian and me during a visit while he was working in the Peace Corps in the Caribbean.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Wish Wash Wish Wash

Those of you who know me are aware that I've always wanted to try homeschooling my kids. I have said more than once, "I'm 95% sure we're going to next year."  The reason for this dream of mine has nothing to do with how I feel about public schools. I think our schools in Whitefish are awesome. But time passes so quickly and I would love to take the opportunity to homeschool even for a year or two. The quality time with each other as siblings, as a family, is irreplaceable. The attachment and direction they receive from an adult/parent rather than peers is invaluable. If they weren't interested, I wouldn't even consider it but they want it as well right now and that won't last forever. Of course, I still haven't committed to it. (Wish wash wish wash) I don't want to deprive them of the great experiences they receive at school but I don't want to look back, and wonder,
"What was I waiting for?"

 Anyway, we have been fortunate enough to become involved with a homeschool community here who meets every Tuesday. Myli and I have joined them for some of their group lessons and Myli attended  the monthly art class they formed at Stumptown Studio. The day the group was going on a field trip to Big Creek Outdoor Education Center just outside of Glacier National Park, I took Luci and Fynn out of school so we could all go. I've been to Big Creek on a field trip with Luci's class and really enjoyed it. They do a great job breaking the day into 4 different educational pieces but it is different every time. We absolutely loved this experience and I would like to think that if or when we do decide to try homeschooling, our classroom would be so much more than pencils and paper.
 Hands on, outdoor, real life, and of course, pencils and paper too.

We split up into two groups of about 10 kids each and our group started the morning sitting in a circle around a campfire inside this teepee to talk about the many characteristics of fire. We discussed the three components needed to create fire (fuel, oxygen, and an energy source) and then played a game to create more of a visual of each component. The kids learned that the number one cause of forest fires is..........(wait for it)............people.   

 We went on a hike through a forest to identify areas affected by the most recent fire. The kids were amazed at all of the new growth. The most common question was, "If all the trees were burned, how did the seeds get here to plant new ones?" Apparently, pine cones fall to the ground once they reach a certain temperature.... and plant new seeds before the fire comes through and burns the trees. Did not know that. I hadn't ever even pondered it.

They held hands for most of the hike. (sigh)

What is the best way to determine how clean a body of water is? By looking at the types of bugs you find in it and on it. The more water bugs, the CLEANER the water. Big Creek is clean. Class-One clean. We figured that out because it houses caddis flies and stone flies....and we had just taken a mini lesson on the subject (see left) before getting a hands-on experience in the creek.  Several of the oldest kids were chosen to gear up in waders and life jackets to take samples and identify bugs so we could determine what type of ecosystem it was.

This guy taught our third course of the day - Endangered species of fish and the causes of the massive population drops. Guess what - the culprit again is.... people. Part of the problem is fishing and not knowing how to identify the differences between various types of trout - Bull trout (endangered), Rainbow trout, Lake Trout.... 
The other part of the problem is that we (people) attempt to correct the extreme population variations by trying to interfere and control them. It then takes several years to realize that, oops, we've created a brand new problem.
This part of our lesson may seem like a downer but it was quite fun. After his little presentation, the kids played another game where they pretended to be different species of fish and they had to get through the stream without being eaten by the dominant species. (Some kids just call this game 'Tag') 

Lastly, we went on a nice long walk along the banks of the river to identify three different types of rock. I can still hold up a rock and ask Myli what kind it is and she'll know. At first she had to think about it and do the game we played to figure out the answer. Igneous (hand motions mimic a volcano), Sedimentary (hand motions make layers with each syllable of the word), and Metamorphic (hand motions make crushing fists to indicate pressure). It didn't take long for her to remember on her own.
Our day ended around 2 o'clock which left us plenty of time to explore on our way home. We stopped at some beautiful waterfalls and took our time chatting about everything we learned. When I asked them if they'd like to do this kind of thing again, I received an excited yes times three. It helps that this homeschool group is full of really great families and kids we already know. We met some new friends though too. (Luci exchanged numbers with the other girl in waders.)

That night I told Brad about our day. He was in full support of the homeschool idea already....but the experience left us both with the feeling that we are 95% sure we're going to do year.

Of course a few days later Luci's class went to tour the middle school where she would be attending 5th grade next year. I went too - shocking, right? Well, we both thought it was awesome. I met the teachers and knew immediately which one would best fit Luci's learning style. I found out today that she was assigned that teacher. I also have a great feeling about the teachers Fynn and Myli will be assigned for 2nd grade and Kindergarten. Thus continues the cycle of "should we, shouldn't we?"

wish wash wish wash


By the way, when I spell checked my post before publishing, it occurred to me that I have no business teaching anyone anything!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Smack Talk Prohibited

The start of baseball season this year has brought an all new source of entertainment. We have Myli in tee ball which is just plain hilarious to watch. I happen to be one of the coaches on her team and the most challenging part of it seems to be herding them all on and off the field. Fynn is in his first year of "rookie" - which is a step up from tee ball ... but we still have those kids who like to play in the dirt and wear their mitts on their heads. There are a handful of kids on his team, though, who take the game quite seriously, Fynn included. They slide into the bases, regardless of the possibility of getting out. They chest bump, back bump, and side bump to celebrate a good play. Luci is in softball. Her team is actually really good and, for the first time ever, she is really into it. She pitches or plays first base and she always gets her hit when batting. Now I'm not into bragging on my kids usually but I'm allowing myself to do so in this instance. I'm quite proud of her. Quite proud of all of them.

Fynn and friends throwing up their hats after practice on a warm day,
They had just seen some older boys take off their shirts.
During Fynn's first practice, we saw a trend that needed to be addressed. We called it "smack talk" and immediately prohibited it. From many of the boys, Fynn included, we'd hear bragging or taunting. "Did you see how far I hit that??? Man, I was cranking them out there!"  or  "Seriously dude, can't you throw further than that??" One kid said "That was pathetic!" We told Fynn he'd be out of the game if he used smack talk. We used another boy (I'll call him Joseph) as an example. "See how Joseph just plays the game and does his best without running his mouth?" I complimented Joseph's character to his dad. He thanked me with a smirk, knowing his son better than I. Ten minutes later I heard Joseph taunt another boy who didn't catch the ball he just threw, "You SUCK!", he said. His dad's smirk registered in my mind. I caught the boy's eye, gave him 'the look' and he knew immediately to apologize. It's really a lot of them, though, who do it. Fynn and I are reading Tim Tebow's book together right now (which I highly recommend) and it helps Brad and I get our point across....but it isn't an easy lesson. They don't get the concept of humility at this age. They're all just trying to prove themselves and there is a fine line between confident and cocky. He'll get it someday - we hope. For the most part though, these boys act like brothers. They want to win....and that is definitely a good thing. They are ultimately trying to encourage each other by challenging each other to do their best. It just doesn't look like encouragement sometimes. To me, it looks like showboating and it sounds like smack talk. But I'm just a mommy who wants her little boy to be nice.

Luci at bat.

Meanwhile, at Luci's first practice, we revelled in the stark differences regarding individual character and team unity. These girls are so supportive and polite to each other. They cheer each other on, encourage, build confidence. The phrases commonly heard on the softball field are positive.  One example during practice: From the batter after swinging at a strike: "I should have hit that one....what a good pitch!" From the pitcher: "Oh thank you! You'll get it next time! You're a great hitter!" "Thank you." "You're welcome!" During the game they have all sorts of catchy cheers for succeeding and for failing. One girl struck out and I heard them all chant "It's alright. It's okay. We still love you anyway!" (I swear!) And they all ran out of the dugout to group hug the failed batter. At the end of the game, most teams do a little group cheer for the other team, then go by giving high fives repeating, "good game, good game, good game......" These girls do this whole ritual but then they run to the other team's dugout and form a tunnel with their arms chanting, "We are so proud of you. We ARE so proud of YOU!" while the other team runs through their tunnel into the dugout. It's really pretty adorable...maybe just a teeeeny bit over the top.

Myli's team - the Mackenzie River Diamondbacks - in the dugout.

Now I don't claim to know why these two sports differ like this. The rules of the game are essentially the same. It could have to do with age and maturity. Maybe it really is gender or hormones (I've heard people comment on the overflowing amount of testosterone in the boys' dugout). I don't want to blame it on gender though. That's not in my nature. I used to think if we raised our boys and girls exactly alike, there would be none of those stereotypical differences. Nature vs nurture, we called it. Luci had footballs and trucks as well as dolls and dress up clothes. Fynn would play with dolls and princess dresses as well as his footballs and trucks. (I remember being complimented by our rather crunchy pediatrician on dressing our baby Luci in her gender neutral clothes). The problem is, you can't raise two children exactly alike regardless of their gender. They are born with their own personalities and you have to let them be who they are. We learned that eventually and when Luci was old enough to tell us what she wanted, her earthy green baby room was painted cotton candy pink, much to my dismay. I had fought off pink for so long so it bothered me as I tried to dissect the meaning. We don't get too hung up on the stereotypes anymore though. These kids are who they are and we adore them through it all. Fynn is very athletic, so obsessed with his sports. He also loves to shop online for clothes and he snuggles his mommy every night. Luci likes to paint her nails but she loves sports and prefers casual clothes to frills. Her biggest passion is to get dirty at the ranch taking care of and riding horses. Myli is Myli. She loves her babies and is the first in the family to own a barbie doll. But she'll dig for worms and play baseball in the street with Fynn and his friends any chance she can get. So I guess what I'm saying is, it shouldn't matter if they are boys 'acting like boys' and girls 'acting like girls'. Or if they're boys 'acting like girls' and girls 'acting like boys'. They are who they are and we adore them through it all.

But still - can we please do away with the smack talk?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Her Nowhere ~ by Brigetta Schwaiger

When my friend Brigetta, a mother of four, told me she was writing a book, I was very impressed. How ambitious! How does she find the time? I couldn't wait to read it. Then, when she told me what it was about, I changed my mind. I couldn't read it. I wouldn't read it. You see, the main character tells of her journey through an unimaginable tragedy and how she comes out on the other side. That's not the kind of story I can read.

By now you've probably observed that I battle a little bit of anxiety. It came about after I had my first child and I transformed into my most vulnerable self, having never known a love quite this fierce.  My anxiety was minor at first but after having a second and third child - and dealing with many scares that come with being a parent - and also seeing loss in lives close to me, it grew worse. I now have many smart little methods to keep it under control and currently feel like I've succeeded (for the most part - I obviously have my setbacks - see other blog posts). I have to be careful's one of my methods. I take breaks from reading the newspaper or watching the news. I use caution when choosing books to read or movies to watch. The opening music of Dateline actually has a physical effect on me. So, "No" I said to Brigetta, "I'm sorry, I don't think I can read your book." I think I even said, "What were you thinking???" in an embarrassingly judgemental tone. She forgave me though and I hope she knew she always had my full support.

Well, last week, Brigetta published her book on Kindle. I was so amazed and proud of her! As I snuggled in bed next to my already sleeping husband one night I decided to just preview it on Amazon on my iPhone. I cautiously read the first chapter, then the second....third....fourth. That's where the sample ended and [I thought] I was left with no choice but to go to sleep. The next night as I went to bed, I was dying to keep reading the story. I don't have a Kindle but I discovered I could download the Kindle app onto my iPhone. After doing just that, I bought the book and started back up from where I left off. I could not and I did not put it down. Five hours and a box of tissues later, I finished it. It was 3:30 am and I was blown away. I had just read one of my all time favorite books and one of my dearest friends is the author!

There are so many reasons why I love this book. The main character captured my heart immediately with her raw and earthy nature. All of the characters are developed beautifully and the story starts in such a way that instantly demanded my attention. I really love to read and it isn't very often that I am completely invested in a book right from the start. The story is full of fine tuned details that took me to other parts of the world....I love that. Ultimately, though, this book contained exactly the life lesson that I needed. The very reason I didn't want to read it to begin with - that I was afraid of it, afraid of opening my mind to more tragic possibilities - is the very reason why I needed to read it. We can control only so much of  what happens in our lives. The rest isn't up to us and we need to be willing to face it all....the beautiful and the tragic. How we respond to both is absolutely in our control. I called Brigetta the next day and peppered her with questions about the entire process she went through while writing the book. Her story of writing it is as captivating as the book itself. When I asked her how she came up with the title, I revelled in her response. "One person's 'nowhere', is always God's 'somewhere'."  We just have to be willing to seek it rather than live the rest of our lives in sorrow.


I have a lovely friend who has endured tremendous tragedy -  the loss of a child. On what would have been her daughter's third birthday this last year, she posted something so beautiful - it bears repeating here.

I may be sad but I am not unhappy.
I may cry but I'm not depressed.
I may be bruised but I am not broken.
I may love anew but I will never forget you...

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Day Outside of My Bubble

It is always so extremely painful for me to leave my kids and go on a trip without them. Each time, right before my flight, my anxiety is so high that I'm physically ill and I swear I'll never ever leave them again. But then I do.... 6 months or 9 months or 1 year later....I make plans to go away with my husband for a day or two because I know it is good for a marriage.

Brad came home from work one day a few weeks ago, "I have to go to Seattle for a meeting next week." My instant thought was "I want to go". I knew we had an extra airline voucher. It would cost nothing. I called my dear friend and neighbor, Kate, who didn't even blink before saying yes my three kids could stay with her for two nights during the school week, doubling the size of her family AND her work load. The plans were made and then, like clockwork, my anxiety kicked in. The night before we left, I was irrationally and involuntarily angry at Brad. I kept having conversations with myself in my head about it - knowing it wasn't his fault -.that I had decided to go all on my own. But I still snubbed him. Brad is so even, laid back, understanding. And he knows me so well. As I'm brushing past him with my cold shoulder he says, "It seems like you're mad at me but I know you're just nervous about leaving the kids. It's really okay if you need to cancel the trip."  I apologized and said "no, I'm just a freak". I had already called my mom to express my worries. She reminded me that she never took advantage of the times she could have gone with my dad because she never wanted to leave us kids. She regrets it dad died when he was 46. I asked my friend Brigetta what she would do. She said that as scary as it is leaving your is not okay to let fear control you. I honestly wasn't even worried about the kids (Kate is second mom to them - they were in good hands). I was worried about orphaning them by plane crash. Brigetta was right. Fear was threatening to make a decision for me and I couldn't stand for it.

Me putting my gum on the gum wall.
So we flew out at 6am after tucking the kids into bed at Kate's the night before. I relaxed after take off and my anxiety was put to rest for the remainder of the trip. We were in downtown Seattle in time for an amazing breakfast at Jimmy's. We lounged in Pioneer Square, walked down to the pier, browsed at Pikes Market, found an old favorite rooftop martini bar that we'd been to 9 years ago, made our own contributions to the infamous Gum Wall, had an early dinner at Pyramid Brewery, and went to a Mariners game. Pretty amazing date with my husband.

Brad giving me his smolder at the rooftop martini bar.
The next morning, Brad had to catch his early flight back home - my flight didn't leave until afternoon. Now if I had the choice, I'd have kept Brad with me but I didn't, so..... I enjoyed my morning of solitude. I packed up my little overnight backpack and headed downtown for some shopping. Living in our Whitefish bubble has many perks. Shopping is not one of them. I've never enjoyed shopping so I never really cared about lack of options in our area. My wardrobe has always been quite basic, even boyish. I knew it was time to expand my wardrobe when I was doing laundry a couple years ago and I hung up several of my beer tee shirts Brad had brought home for me from beer distributors (yeah I actually hung them up on hangers). The thought occured to me that I'm too old to dress like a college age boy - maybe a mother of three should not be wearing cargo shorts and beer tee shirts unless she is mowing the lawn. "Mom, what is Moose Drool?" off track a little bit....I got to shop....for myself. I only bought one thing. But the experience was lovely. I then hopped back on the rail link listening to my ipod and headed to the airport just in time to catch my flight home.

Back at the Glacier International Airport that afternoon I felt completely refreshed and excited as my kids each ran at me full speed with huge hugs and 'i love yous'.I was grateful to have them back in my arms. I'm grateful to have taken that time with my husband. I'm grateful for Nick and Kate for loving our kids like their own. I'm grateful I didn't let irrational fear make my decision.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

My 'Filosophy'

On the days I can't make it to the gym, I try to get some sort of exercise at, lift weights in the garage, run on the track near our house, etc. One day I went out in the garage to jump rope. The big doors were open and when I looked out, I saw Father Ken, the priest at our church, standing in his driveway across the street. I waved and thought, "How funny. He must think I'm my garage jumping rope and blaring my music." I had just visited with him the night before at our Wednesday night Faith Formation class at church. Seeing him again in this very different setting got me thinking about the different priorities we all have and the way we balance them in our lives. I thought about my own priorities and an interesting fact came to surface. The five main things I value and work to balance all begin with the letter F. I decided to name the group "My Filosophy". These values are, in no particular order, as follows:

Obviously my family is important to me....considering they are the main topic of my blog most days. The five people (I'm including myself) in my immediate family are my main priority. But Brad and I are fortunate enough to be fairly close geographically and extremely close emotionally to each of our siblings and parents. We make a point to see my mom and Brad's parents regularly and our siblings and their families at least a few times throughout the year. We plan a family reunion at a cabin on Flathead Lake each summer for both sets of extended family. (Love you all so much!)

We have some really great friends. I'm not bragging - I'm complimenting the wonderful people in our lives. We are lucky to spend time with these lovely families. We have each others' backs and help with each others' kids. They are our "Whitefish family". We also make a point to keep in touch with the friends we left when we moved here.... our "Bozeman Family" With them, we plan camping trips, hot springs trips, cabin trips...etc. We miss them a ton. This summer I hope to see my "Missoula Family" more often as well. So.....our friends our really important to us.

Each night I say a prayer over my kids and it always ends in me asking for a "long life on this earth together until we come home to You again". This one request always makes my heart feel warm and comforted because amidst all my fears and vulnerability, I am reminded that our real HOME is where this life ends and the next begins. We may all arrive HOME at different times but we'll all get there. That's how I picture it at least. While my faith is an important part of my life, I am no saint, by any sense of the word. I have many flaws. I curse more often than I should. I have my vices...(coffee, wine). I judge people -even though I try not to - (if you read my last blog, I needn't say more.) We're not super consistent in attending church. I don't know the bible as well as I should.(I teach Luci's fourth grade Faith Formation class and I feel like a total fraud). But I was raised by parents who had faith in God and took us to church every weekend. We were baptized in the Catholic Church and went through all of the appropriate rites of passage. It wasn't shoved down our throats at was very relaxed. We may have complained about going to church growing up but I can honestly say it was a very comforting and lovely experience sitting in the pew with my whole family. It felt safe. So these are aspects of religion that I want to bring into my own family and part of the reason we decided to start taking the kids to Faith Formation at the Catholic Church in Whitefish. The community feeling we have there is awesome. Our kids love their classes and the friends they have made. They learn about having a pure relationship with God and they learn how to be good people. I think it should really be just that simple.

I want to live as long as possible. I know exercising and eating healthy does not give me a guarantee but it should increase my chances. I also want to be able to keep on playing with my kids. We love to ski in the winter, wake board in the summer, play baseball, play football, play volleyball, swim, ride bikes, jump rope, bounce on the trampoline, dance. Its just plain Fun. Which brings me to.....

We have a lot of fun. Sometimes I wonder if we have too much fun. Are we spoiled? Will our children become part of the "entitled generation?" We're determined to keep that from happening...which is why we often say "no" just for the sake of saying "no". Is that enough? (They also have daily chores) Advice on this subject is welcome.

That's it, My Filosophy, My Five F's. Family, Friends, Faith, Fitness, and Fun. At some point in the next year or two, I'll be adding a career to my balancing act. I'm still not sure what field I'll choose but I suppose I'd better make it start with an F.

After thought (or ADHD)
As my ideas about all aspects of my Filosophy fizzled, my eyes refocused on the house across the street. I thought about how much Father Ken really sees of our daily activities. (He is out in the driveway a lot) I guess I'm not the kind of person who pretends to be someone I am it really shouldn't matter. But I can't help but care a little what some people think. Father Ken can easily see all aspects of my life from his house....including all of my flaws. I suppose that is a lesson in itself though. His life long job is not to judge others, it is to accept others and teach. (I should remember this quality next time I see the Buzz Killer) He brings people in and teaches that God loves us through all of our imperfections and sins. We all have flaws.

I think I burned at least a thousand calories that morning, jumping rope in my garage by the time I got to my ending thought: We all have Flaws. I should work on having Fewer. Hey two more F - words! How Phunny! (That's for you, Mom.)

Loving my Filosophy!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Buzz Killer

After buying a smoothie from the front counter at my local gym a few days ago, Myli and I excitedly hurried to the locker room to change into our swim suits. We were meeting her little friend at the pool. I had just finished my workout and was very hungry so I brought a smoothie to drink while I watched the girls swim before I joined them in the water. We were happy. Laughing. Having fun. Feeling excited. I smiled as they splashed around and giggled. I looked up and watched a woman walk toward me. I knew this woman, an employee at the facility. She is my own personal Newman. I don't see her that often but every single time I do she has this incessant need to reprimand me or one of my children for breaking some sort of rule. She would undoubtedly make an excellent security guard. (no offense to any of you security guards out there). "You can't have that in here." she announced. I forced a fake smile to hide my irritation. "Okay" I said through my teeth. Then, like a teenager wearing a "question authority" t-shirt, I slowly sipped down every last drop of my smoothie while staring in her direction the whole time. Talk about passive-aggressive. I'm not proud of my behavior.

Some of my past encounters with Miss Rule Nazi, aka, Fun Sucker, aka Buzz Killer:

When my son, Fynn, was 3 years old I was swimming with him at the gym and he was jumping into my arms in the water. He got all excited and did a sideways leap. "Careful Fynn," I said. "Jump in feet first". He jumped in again more carefully but excitedly fell forward. Enter the Rule Nazi. My first experience with her. I expected her to comment on his swimming abilities - he was a little fish! Instead she growled in his face, "If your mom can't get you to listen, maybe I can! If you 'dive' in again, I'll kick you out of the pool!"

State law says children under the age of 5 are not allowed in the hot tub at a facility like a fitness center. I've always considered it more of a guideline. I feel like we parents are pretty well equipped to make healthy decisions for our kids. But my kids have always been very aware of that rule and were terrified of going to the hot tub at our local gym until they were 'of age'. One day, not long before Myli's fifth birthday, we'd been swimming in the big pool and Myli was shivering she was so cold. I said "Let's go over to the hot tub and warm you up!" She said "I can't! I'm not 5!" I said "It's okay honey. You're almost 5 and you're freezing." Well I couldn't convince her to break the rule but I did get her to sit next to the hot tub, with her feet on the top step and I would splash a little warm water on her arms and legs." Enter the Fun Sucker. She spoke directly to Myli without even looking at me. "Young lady, how old are you?" Myli's panicked eyes darted over at me and back to Fun Sucker. "Four." I should have been proud of her honesty. "Well", says Fun Sucker, "You're not allowed in the hot tub until you're five....that includes your feet!" I thought my eyes were going to roll all the way out of my head.

A few months back, Myli and I met some friends at the pool during the school day. They brought their youngest child who was 2 at the time and still used a life jacket. Our kids were having a great time in the pool. I was talking to my friends enjoying the conversation. Enter Buzz Killer. She had spotted us and walked over to give the boy's dad some swimming tips. His dad is not the kind of guy who needs tips. They have four extremely athletic boys who could swim circles around Buzz Killer. It was really painful to listen. Then she began lecturing my friends on the state of their child's life jacket which was in fine shape. "How old is it? Did you know that each time you use it, you need to put it in the shower for half an hour and then let it dry completely before you use it again???" On and on and on. They both handled it quite gracefully. I think I did not. I was rolling my eyes, shaking my head, and walked away in the middle of her lecture.

Now I would like to think I have a pretty mellow personality and I pride myself in accepting others in the same way I hope others will accept me. Every once in awhile, though, I really find myself intolerant of certain people. Rule Nazi, aka, Fun Sucker, aka Buzz Killer will always be one of those people. And I'm not going to apologize.

(Okay I'll probably end up apologizing - I can't help it - it's what I do)