Things that make me go :)

If ever there was a time that the world could use a smile, it's now. So I give you 9 things that made me turn my frown upside down this past month.

#1) Dubsmash. Five-year-old Faith is a lip-synching sensation. Check out our favorites and download the app to get your Milli Vanilli on. 

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It started with this: 


And has spiraled into a 4 part series. 

It made me think of my own awkward moment that happened recently. My husband and I got up to leave a wedding and my cousin across the table rose at the same time. I thought he was coming to hug us goodbye but as he got closer I realized he was just heading outside to smoke a cigarette. Realizing this, I abandoned the hug by pivoting around on my heels, but he was already too far committed. He ended up putting me in a chokehold as we told each other goodbye. Hilarious now. Awkward as hell at the time. 

#3) My nephew. Seriously, I was nervous to suddenly become the mom of three when my sister asked me to babysit her 10-month-old overnight. I had visions of no sleep and crying (mainly me) and lots of diaper changes. But this kid ate better, slept better and behaved better than both my children. And he only pooped once on my watch. Well, not "on" my watch, but I digress. This bodes well for my #3kidssomeday campaign.


I will have this on standby all weekend.

#5) Girl time. 
What do you get when you cross craft beer, flowers and time with friends? A buzzed, happy mama with a Thanksgiving centerpiece! Note: If you take a designer to an event like this, know that yours will be the 2nd best at best.


#6) The Holderness family. Seriously, I want their life. Jello?


#7) Healthy kids. I know this one is obvious, but with the toddler's recent sickness, I was reminded to be grateful. Her spunky little personality goes missing when she has a fever, so I was happy to see it return this week.


#8) The Nutcracker. Men in tights = Heck. Yes! I'd never seen a ballet before, unless you count Faith's performance in a Mickey Mouse themed recital when she was all of three years old. While that was adorable, the Nutcracker's costumes and sheer number of performers were amazing. And those ballerinas on their toes --- dayum! Faith's favorite part was not the sugar plum fairy, but "when the rat queen came."  

Photo from Ballet Nebraska's website.
#9) Ready for this one? It's you. Yeah, you, for reading all the way through this post. Someone I barely see/hear from told me recently that she enjoyed one of my blog posts. Comments like this or on Facebook make my day. So take a good long look in the mirror and know that you make me smile. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Choose Your Own Adventure

I blame Pinterest.

It was there where I got the idea to turn nearly two pounds of perfectly good chicken in "Salsa Verde Chicken and Rice Casserole."


Sunday nights are when we have time to prepare a meal versus our typical weeknight in which we are simply scrambling to put things onto our table for fear bombs (our children) will explode (seriously, they will explode) if the task is not done by 5:45 p.m. Fun times.

Step one involved greasing the pan. Check and Check. Thanks, "Pam"!

Step two involved bringing the salsa verde to a boil. F and F! I had forgotten to buy "salsa verde" to make my "salsa verde" chicken and rice casserole. If ever there were a time to say "story of my life" this would be it.

I sent my husband to the store by continuously lamenting that I'd forgotten the main ingredient until he was so tired of hearing about it, he left. By the time he returned, we had a lot invested in this meal. At least $15 worth of "Smart" chicken (does buying this increase anyone else's self esteem?) and a 20-minute trip to the grocery store for a $5 jar of salsa verde just for starters. I decided to 1.5 the recipe because nothing doubles your chances of screwing up a recipe like doubling a recipe. Did you know that half of 3/4 is .375? You're welcome.

*Spoiler alert: our math went wrong.

Mr. Lindquist made the chicken mixture while I made the rice - which somehow was very complex I'll have you know. As we moved to mix the two together, I noticed it was rather "liquid-y."

Now here's the difference between me and my husband.

My brain: WARNING! WARNING! This is doomed. Abort mission. Why did you even try, you Pinterest-loving wannabe?
His brain: This will be fine. Ignoring problem in 3-2-........ Man, I'm a great cook.

I strained the rice out of my watery mixture, but the chicken was too far gone in sour cream and milk to do anything about. It still needed to broil for 10 minutes so in the oven it went and cross our fingers we did.

(Cue 10 minutes of distraction techniques while we defused lit bombs using only tortilla chips.)

Straight out of the oven, it looked edible. We gave it five minutes to "set up" and then I attempted to "slice" it. Have you ever run a knife through soup? No, because if you did your brain would say, "Why am I using a cutting tool on liquid?" and your hand would stop. But I was not about to give in that easily. I cut the entire pan of Liquid Casserole into pieces and began slopping it onto plates. Now I can be pretty convincing and somewhat demanding when it comes to dinnertime with my family. Edamame = magic beans. Also, eat five more bites cause you're 5-years-old (thanks, Mom). And everyone's all time favorite - because I said so, which I mostly use on Rob when doesn't serve himself enough vegetables.

But with this I just couldn't muster up my strength. I placed the dishes in front of the girls and hoped for the best. When the looks came seconds later, (you know the looks) I wasn't offended. In fact, I agreed. I didn't want to put fork to mouth myself.

The thought crossed our minds to turn this into enchilada filling, but with one sorry tortilla left in the fridge and a man that probably wasn't going to go back to the grocery store anytime soon, it was do or try time. The baby got the tortilla filled version. The Kindergartener got the nacho version and hubby took a bowlful with crushed chips on top. I depressingly contemplated my next move. Just as I was about to enter Poutyville (so much time invested, so much $ on groceries) my husband put his typical positive spin on it. "It's a Choose Your Own Adventure meal," he said. "Each one of us is eating it a different way."

I had to laugh. Partly because I wanted to "choose" to throw my version in the garbage, but partly because here I was "choosing" to be down in the dumps about some stupid overpriced chicken breasts when he "chose" to find the humor.

That's when I realized that so much of life is "choosing" what to do. I can choose whether or not to freak out over this meal gone wrong or I can chuckle about it. I can choose to be in a good mood on Monday morning or I can post a meme of Facebook on how much the start of the week sucks. I can choose to walk/run over my lunch hour or I can choose to read about Khloe and Lamar. I can choose patience over yelling. I can choose to call a friend versus watch TV. I can choose to brush my teeth or just eat my 5th mini KitKat. Everything is a choice. And before I get to philosophically deep into this, you should know that believe it or not, I "chose" to eat the leftover "Salsa Verde Chicken" for lunch today.

I call it Liquid Courage.



What will you choose?

The 9th Percentile

Before I became a parent, the word "percentile" was not in my vocabulary. Percenta-what? I would have said. But it entered like an unwelcome relative (cough cough, lady always asking when the next baby is coming) after my firstborn decided to be a "lazy eater." While that sounds like a Catchphrase clue for "couch potato" and actually brings to mind an endearing image of a newborn scrolling through Netflix options while chugging a Dr. Brown's, it actually meant she would rather sleep than eat and thus became dehydrated on day four of her little life. After being born 7 pounds, 1 ounce, she quickly dipped into the lower half of percentiles and has stayed there for good. Her sister followed suit.

For those who aren't familiar, the medical profession uses this term as a way to classify how your baby stacks up against other babies in terms of height and weight. It wouldn't be such a big deal if the parents of bigger babies (yeahI'mjealous) didn't treat it as some sort of accomplishment (bitter,partyofone) like their 4-month old actually got an 86% on a test instead of eating constantly and having tall genes (life'snotfair). I've finally come to terms that percentiles are something to make the Big and Tall people of the world feel good and petite families everywhere feel like fat baby failures.

Because who doesn't love a chunky child? There're squishy, smiley and just look like they're ready to eat a plate of fried chicken. But can you imagine if adults shared their "percentiles?"

"Yeah, Bob, I'm up to the 92nd percentile now. Been hitting the weights pretty hard."
"Dang, Bill. I'm really impressed that you weigh more than 92 out of 100 people. Congrats."

Sorry for my lack of creative names. And the fact that these people sound like they're in their 80s. Let's try that again.

"Duuuude, I'm straight up 96 #percent."
"Damn, brah, you killin' it."

Whip. Nae nae. I give up.

I will always remember heading into the doctor's office, ready to tell her all about my baby's accomplishments (STOP THE PRESSES SHE HAS THREE TEETH!) and leaving feeling like an incompetent failure for my lack of chubby offspring.

The only thing that saved my sanity over the years were my mother's meticulous records of what I weighed at every checkup ("12 pounds, 3 ounces and cute as a button" - gag, mom!). Turns out my kids grow at the exact same slow rate as their madre all along.

I realize we use these numbers to track development in the early stages of the game, as babies can't walk, talk, or do anything but avoid sleeping. I get it. But by age two is it really necessary? My potty-trained daughter speaks in 15+word sentences (Cubby Bear pick me up! Cubby Bear pick me up! Cubby Bear pick me up!), hops as a mode of transportation and asks everyone in sight, "What your name?" as though there will be a test and she plans to score an 86%.

So why does anyone, including me, care that she's in the 9th percentile? That's right, I said it. 9. NINE. 9er. (You caught a niner in there.) I have never shared my children's numbers with the world in a proud way until today.  Nine percent isn't exactly something you humblebrag about, but I'm going to start. Here's what 9 percent looks like. Happy, healthy and STOP THE PRESSES SHE CAN TOUCH HER TOES!



The Big K


Here we are. The day before Kindergarten. Holy freaking crap, Kindergarten. My 7 pound, 1 ounce baby is going to Kindergarten tomorrow. In the hubbub of school preparations, I haven't had time to think overanalyze just how I feel about this until I sat down to type this post. And tear No. 1 just rolled down my cheek.

Raise your hand if you remember your first day of kindergarten. I do. I remember the pictures of apples all over the room (so many apples). I remember how Mrs. Stratman didn't call on me during circle time and how devastated I was that she picked a girl named Amy instead. And as I'm remembering things, I'm remembering how I didn't look back, even once, for my mom.

At 8:30 a.m. on August 31, Faith won't look back either. And I'll realize just how my mom felt sending me into that enormous school all alone all those years ago. Oh how I wish 32-year-old me could hug my 36-year-old mother that day. She survived and so will I, but it probably won't be pretty. Scratch that, it's definitely gonna get ugly.

My tough-girl self wants to slap my sappy self for even getting emotional about this. It's school, not the military, and she's five, not 18. I'm still going to cut her meat for dinner when she gets home and wash her hair in the bathtub because she still refuses to take showers. But tough-girl knows something will change when her firstborn daughter is inside those doors. Mom won't be there to encourage, explain, translate, cheer, clap, laugh or cry. It will just be her. Left to fend and friend for herself. Today it's kindergarten, tomorrow she's driving.


She's been asking about this day for MONTHS. Now that it's finally here, she told me she's "nervous." Nervous? I questioned her incredulously. She confessed she's worried about "making friends." I told her to look at me. When her Daddy's shade of green eyes finally locked on mine, I told her as straight faced as I could: "You will make a great friend to anyone who wants to be one to you, Faith." I hope she believes it. Because it's true.

She survived her shots. When the doctor finished the exam, she told her "I think you're forgetting something! The finger prick?" We all got a good chuckle out of it. She (and the nurse) screamed during the shots.
Two scoops for two shots. We both had stomach aches later!

I'm sobbing while writing this, but it's possible I'll be fine tomorrow? After all, I didn't even get a little misty at Kindergarten Round-Up or anytime anyone asked about the big day. So maybe I got a lump in my throat when I read "12- No. 2 pencils" on her school supply list, and when I learned her teacher's name for the first time, and when I saw her cubby on Back-to-School night, but there's hope right?! 

Oh forget it. I should have saved two of the four boxes of tissues for the classroom for myself and the other moms on the first day. That's right, Dad won't be there. His first day of school is also tomorrow, but sadly he's getting a Tupperware container of leftovers and a swift kick kiss out the door in the morning. With him not present, I'm liable to linger, break down in front of Mrs. Pearce's entire Kindergarten class (my baaaabyyyy) and possibly be politely escorted from the school grounds by a wannabe police officer.

Her Hello Kitty backpack is by the door. Her new school clothes laid out in a pile by her dresser. Her Frozen alarm clock set to wake her up to "Let It Go." This is real. This is happening. Kindergarten, here we come.

Back-to-School Night. Is there anything better than the inside of a Kindergarten teacher's room? Gabby doesn't think so.

Next stop, Kindergarten!

How Not to Take Away Your Baby's Binky



If you Google how to take away the binky, i.e. how to steal the one comfort item your child has had since birth right out from under them, you will be met with a mere 228,000 results. All of them are cruel and unusual.

I mean, cut the tip off? Why don't you just behead one of their stuffed animals while you're at it?

And dip it in something nasty tasting? Probably going to give them a sauerkraut complex for life, but go right ahead.

Then there's the binky fairy. Even the tooth fairy doesn't believe in her.

I never liked any of these methods, so instead we tried our own. And let me tell you, my husband and I, we collectively Sucked, capital S for emphasis. You will not find our methods on any baby websites anytime soon because frankly, we'd be sued. We'll keep them right here on this blog where no one can find them and I guess all you parents out there can just go back to beheading binkies and dipping pacis in pickle juice.

Here's our top 5 "what not to dos."

Mistake #1. Elect to de-pacify on the 4th of July weekend. Pop. Pop. Pop go the fireworks. Crack. Crack. Crack go the cans of beer we needed to save our sanity. I thought my 2-year-old would be the first kid to stay away 24 hours in a row. While the Guinness record would be nice, just no.

Mistake #2. At least I've read the websites mentioned above and knew the "tried and true" methods. My husband decided to go rogue with his idea. Our toddlers room features an owl theme, therefore we have a decorative cage in her room. Dad decided to lock the binky in the see-through cage and act like he couldn't get it out. Really? Imagine what our child thought. "Why did daddy lock my binky in a cage? How dumb is he? He knows I need that to sleep! And why is he so incompetent that he now can't get it out. Mommmmmm!!!" Once I caught wind of this odd jodi-mind trick he tried, I released the binky from captivity. Out of sight, out of mind, or so I thought.

Mistake #3. Find the most ear worm-inducing two-minute video on the internet about Elmo giving up his pacifier. Nice idea in theory, annoying as shit in practice. And you know how two-year-olds say "one more time" and you think they mean it? Mine fooled me with this at least four times before I caught on. By then, she had the song memorized and sang it for an hour straight after I left her room for the night.

Mistake #4. Keep a binky in the bottom of your purse. Sure, I'd forgotten it was there, but when I remembered, I was gung ho on handing it over a full two weeks after we'd taken it away because she still WOULD NOT STOP TALKING TWO HOURS AFTER WE PUT HER TO BED! Her name is Gabby and I did not find the coincidence humorous.

Mistake #5. Not having enough alcohol or will power on hand. Self-explanatory.

There you have it. This has been yet another, "What not to do as you raise your children," segment brought to you by the Lindquist family. You're welcome.

Why I Don't Deserve Diamonds

When I lost the diamond out of my wedding ring, maybe you remember how my dog saved my marriage, maybe you don't. Hopefully you remember how, um, what was I going to say? Oh yeah, how forgetful I am.

Just yesterday I left my purse in a store. The entire thing. Sitting on the floor. Wide open because why not? And this was after I forgot to pack my swimsuit for a vacation TO THE BEACH.

I tell you this so you know who you're dealing with as you read the following account. This way the ending may not be much of a surprise.

....

So there I was, washing my face in the sink after a long day that included what seemed like a 300-hour drive to the lake with our children in the backseat for vacation. I glanced up in the mirror of the fish-themed bathroom and noticed it immediately. One of my diamond earrings was missing!

Shit! Shit! Shitshitshit!

Did it fall down the sink? No.
Did I take one out and set it on the counter already? Nope.
Did it drop on the floor somehow? Nada.

OK, well then it could have fallen out in the car, at the gas station 90 miles away, in the expansive yard of the home where we were staying or somewhere in the two-story, four-bedroom house.Gee, that narrows it down.

I thought of shouting a battle cry to commence the search for mommy's diamond, similar to what I did when the one fell out of my wedding ring. Just as I envisioned an all out "Honey I Shrunk the Kids" style search (the one where they're dangling from the clothesline --love that movie) I remembered my dog was back home barking home his brains out at doggy daycare and my children can't ever find one of their 206 pairs of shoes.

I could ask my husband to help in the search, but he was embarking on a 26.2 mile run for the first time the next day and if he knew I'd lost (another) diamond, it would give him way too much time to contemplate divorce.

So. It was up to me to keep it under wraps. I pretended to forget that it was lost. Easy for me to do. But over the course of the next day and a half, I was constantly looking down. If I noticed a speck of anything on the carpet, grass, sandy beach, etc. I was down on my hands and knees examining it and probably giving everyone who observed me cause to reflect on why I was allowed out of the house.

Finally, on Sunday, I couldn't take it anymore and decided to fess up and enlist the help of my spouse, who by the way did complete that marathon and contemplated a separation approximately zero times thanks to my brilliant plan. He was on a runner's high, so I'm not sure he quite got the gravity of the situation/didn't realize I'd want new ones if one half of my current set was lost forever.

When I lost the diamond out of my ring, I didn't feel guilty at all because it truly wasn't my fault. This time, however, I knew it probably was. My husband had given these earring to me at a surprise party he threw for my 30th birthday. He even annoyingly gushed in his speech that I deserved them. Gag!

I figured I'd gotten careless with making sure the back was on right and now one of them had fallen out. I wondered how long I'd been a one-earring pirate before I noticed in the mirror after washing my face. Surely, someone would have noticed and commented, wouldn't they? I went back to the bathroom to search again. No luck.

We arrived home on Sunday and just like every road trip, I ran into the house claiming to need to relieve myself, when in reality I just hate unloading the car. I did my business, paused to take a look at my naked ears in the mirror and then looked at the counter. And there it was. Pretty little diamond earring number two sitting on the counter all "Hi, mom!"

I HAD NEVER PUT THE SECOND EARRING IN MY EAR ON FRIDAY MORNING. I HAD BEEN A PIRATE ALLLL DAY LONG AND NO ONE, NO ONE! HAD NOTICED. IS NO ONE SCARED OF PIRATES ANYMORE?! INCLUDING MYSELF!

This story ends happily, I think, but the next time I lose something, I'm just going to assume it's on my lap, in the bottom of my purse (that's hopefully not at the store) or that given enough time, my dog will find it for me.

I don't have a good photo for this post, but the selfie I took when my husband was about to finish the marathon is probably close to what my face looked like to that diamond sitting on my bathroom counter.



F I V E

To my dearest Faith,

You are officially five-years-old now. Your birthday party and birthday trip to Adventureland have come and gone and here we are. Wow. Five whole years. Not only can I not believe you're that old, but I also can't believe I've been a mom that long. I feel like I need one of those "years of service" awards, in which I will pick the cutlery rather than a piece of jewelry, to believe it's true.

More about you in a second, but this milestone birthday has me reflecting. As I lay awake in bed the night of June 24th, hours after we returned from Des Moines from two days of fun-filled activities in your honor, I couldn't fall asleep. I looked at the clock. 11:11. Yes, time to make a wish, but more importantly, in four minutes five years ago, you were born. It hit me, hard, and I began to sob. That seems like 5 DAYS AGO, NOT YEARS! I recall it so vividly...







I thought to myself how much I had no idea back then how the next five years would go. We've made a lot of memories.

Your first bath.
Intussusception.
Your first spaghetti.
Your first birthday.
Pneumonia.
Two Years with One Girl.
Binkies Part 1. And Part 2.
Potty talk.
Raising a threenager.
Going to the lodge.
Turning four.
And more Faithisms than I can count.

As I lie there silently crying for fear that I would wake your dad up and he'd make fun of me for being such a softy, I couldn't help but feel beyond blessed for the last five years of your life. But at the same time, I felt sad. Sad that my arms don't remember what your toddler body felt like to pick up anymore. Sad that I can't recall the funny thing you used to say during a certain point in a book we used to read or how exactly you mispronounced a word. Sad that my nose has forgotten your new baby smell.

I blog because I want to diary your childhood, but all the posts in the world won't bring me back to those times in your life. It's just a snapshot of what it was like to be there. As tight as I try to hold on, I'm just along for the ride like every other mom out there. I'm comforted knowing God didn't design us to be able to live in the past. That, and I love living in the present with you.

The following list will never capture the true you, but because it's better than nothing, I will try.

1) You remind me of me. Emotions get the best of you sometimes and that means all of them. You are REALLY happy when things go your way and REALLY not when they don't.




2) You have a best friend. You met Maisie at school and bonded at her Frozen-themed birthday party. She was the first kid to invite you over to play at her house without me there. She's been your go-to pal ever since and I love her spunky personality. Though she won't be going to the same school as you next year, I will always consider her your very first friend.



3) You have turned a corner at the dinner table. I wanted to purchase this book last year, but then you decided that you were hungry and the way to remedy that was (wait for it) eating what we put in front of you! You scarf down turkey sandwiches, tacos, chicken of all kinds and even eat edamame and broccoli now. (PRAISE THE LAWD!) Your absolute favorite is dad's homemade beef sliders with cheese on a King's Hawaiian Roll and baked french fries. I'm not sure how this happened, but it has and now mama has trouble pushing you up the hill in the stroller.



4) You went and got your own opinions. From picking out an outfit to purchasing new shoes, you want to pick what you want to pick. My opinion has lost all meaning and sometimes I think you purposely pick the opposite of what I say. (Pause while I call my own mother to apologize for doing this same thing.) While it's hard to have lost my right to vote, I love seeing the autonomy and empowerment that comes with you choosing what you want, even if it's as wacky as all get out.



5) This is nothing new, but watching you play make-believe with your 117 My Little Pony figurines is fascinating. You can entertain yourself for hours. And when Gabby threatens to join you, you counter by getting out your "chokables" and saying she can't come in your room.

6) Your curls are beautiful and make you you. You, however, are constantly trying to straighten them. Hopefully someday you'll have an appreciation for what makes you unique!



7) The world is your stage. Every night your dad and I are in for a "performance." There's no talking, laughing, smiling, interrupting (MOM, you're interrupting me!). When you found an open display at Target, it too became your stage!


8) Your obsession with "sugary snacks" is why you receive gifts like this and do things like this. It's also why your dentist bill is the highest of anyone in our family.



9) You've learned to operate an iPhone camera, thinking that my four-digit password is my phone number.  It's led to such gems as these.



10) The photo below is a rare sighting, but you are becoming a much bigger help around the house. We have to make chores a game in order for you to be interested in cleaning up. The other day dad set the timer for 30 seconds for you to clean up your toys and you weren't finished when the timer went off. Instead of walking away, you asked for 30 more seconds on the clock twice. We felt like evil geniuses.


11) Your preschool graduation was held on our 8-year anniversary and we couldn't have marked another marriage milestone any better than watching our firstborn sing songs in a mini cap and gown. Here you are with your teachers, who showed you more patience during nap time than you'll ever realize, at least until you have non-nappers of your own.



12) Kindergarten roundup was pretty non-eventful, but I did so well because you are so ready. It's barely July and you're already asking if Kindergarten starts tomorrow.



13) Instead of dance, we went with gymnastics as your activity this past year. (I'm a horrible dance mom, but if you want to rejoin we'll hire someone to do your hair and makeup and alter your costumes and maybe even practice with you at home!) Anyway, on the day of the exhibition (hearing you try to pronounce "exhibition" in the days leading up to the event was worth it alone) you got tp running too fast (I think you were trying to show off) and you tripped and fell. Totally unfazed by it, you got up and completed your tumbling routine, which included pausing for applause while you struck a pose (not required). Next up, soccer.



14) Your class trip to the zoo on the last day of school was one of my most memorable trips there in my 32 years. We didn't have to haul a stroller, you walked the entire time, and I got to see you interact with all your friends while we had the exhibits to ourselves because of a rainy forecast but beautiful day.


15) You are signed up for swimming lessons that cost entirely too much this summer because you still won't put your pretty face in the water. When you work up the courage to blow bubbles in the pool, you immediately ask for a towel afterward. I do not know why water troubles you so much as your sister is always trying to drink the pool and submerge herself. It's just one of the things that make you you.

16) I plan to mention in my mother-of-the-bride speech that you are technically still married to your dad as of 2015. Here's the announcement we ran in the paper on Facebook.

The bride wore a (pajama) dress from Target and her little sister served as the flower girl using week old birthday decorations. The groom said his vows and the bride said "thank you." They kissed right in front of his current wife. The couple honeymooned in the living room.




17) At your "adventure soccer" themed birthday party, you loved having all your little friends over. When two of the boys got there, you orchestrated a competition by telling them whoever won a wrestling match could marry you and THEN THEY BOTH STARTED WRESTLING EACH OTHER! Grandpa is not allowed to watch the children anymore ;) Otherwise, a great time was had by all!



18) You've always had an attention span 10 miles long, which makes going to the movies fun. Recently we saw Inside Out and your favorite character was Disgust! (Please save the teenage tendencies for a few years, k!)



19) You are such a sister. Loving Gabby comes naturally to you as does picking her up by the waist and dropping her where you'd like her to go. It's tough being the oldest, but we know as much as you tease her, take from her and tell her what to do, you are her protector. When some boys were roughhousing in a line at the library recently, one of them asked Gabby if she wanted in. (Why is the library holding Royal Rumbles I ask you?) You stepped in front of her and shouted, "She's MY SISTER and NO, she doesn't want to play with YOU!" Well, allrighty then.



20) We got you a bike for your birthday. You might make it to the neighbor's driveway by the time you turn six. Seriously, you are thee most cautious creature on the planet (see number 15) and hit the brakes more than the gas. Meanwhile Gabby stands on the scooter, not moving, and shouts "I did it!" You two are the worst dynamic duo of your time. But I love you for it.



21) I can't wait for you to learn to read. Right now, we are reading the Level 1 Disney books and you are starting to recognize sight words. Dad and I fight over who gets to read to you or be read to by you now because this development is probably the biggest deal since you became potty trained.

22) You got to go camping with your dad this summer and to say you loved it is an understatement. For all your dress-wearing, lip-gloss sporting, preference for dress shoes ways, you love the outdoors. I think it has something to do with s'mores and staying up late, but we'll have to do it again soon.



23) As part of your present this year, we went to Adventureland and you, my dear, are an adventure seeker! You loved the roller coaster! (Be still my heart!) and went on everything you were tall enough for. The next day you had whiplash on your poor little neck, but to you it was worth it.



24) That's all the stuff I can think of about you. So here's one about me: I love you. So much. Happy 5th Birthday big girl!



On Comparing Yourself to Others: My Triathlon Experience

If you are pressed for time and need the cliff's notes version of this blog on comparing yourself to others, here you are:

"Don't."



Now, for those who enjoy putting off doing something supposedly more important like "paying attention to your kids," by reading my words of/attempts at wisdom, here's a 1,043-word diatribe.


There I was, about to cross the finish line of a sprint triathlon, looking strong in the video my husband was about to post on Facebook, and on the inside, I couldn't have felt weaker.

My body, weary from a .5 mile swim, a 12.4 mile bike ride and a 3.1 mile run in 80-degree heat, still with the ability to kick at the end, and I couldn't have been more disappointed in it.

There was a smile filled with pride on my husband's face as his arms stretched out for a high five and a hug and I couldn't have wanted to curl up on the ground and cry more.


Why, you ask.


Well, because I finished 116th. Out of 136. 21 out of 22 in my age group. Almost the slowest person on the course for the biking portion.

While training for the event, I told the lifeguard at the pool that I wouldn't be first and I wouldn't be last. At some points during the event, I wasn't so sure I could keep good on my promise to him, and not in the good (first) kind of way.

I had plenty of excuses for my performance:
It was my first triathlon.
I'd never swam in open water before (without a lifejacket).
I'd ridden that particular bike approximately zero times prior to the race.
I didn't eat a good breakfast.
It was hot.
The course was hilly.
And on and on.

But deep down I knew these were excuses. The facts were that I got passed by most of the master's level swimmers in the water and more women than I cared to count on the bike trail. If I heard the phrase "on your left" one more time, I might have chucked my shoe at someone's spokes.

So in essence, I needed a moment to feel sorry for myself upon finishing. I told my husband I'd meet him around the other side of the transition area and went to grab the bike my friend's mom ever-so-kindly loaned me for the race. I got to my belongings and knelt down to cry. The tears were just about to start flowing.

"Nic, do you need more chocolate milk?" yelled my husband.

His voice startled me. I thought he had gone ahead. But there he was, waiting for me and thus not allowing his wife to cry like a little girl after an accomplishment so big. He stopped my pity party in its tracks, damn him. Then he handed me my phone. I watched his videos, heard him scream cheering for me in the background and read the comments. The tears started to come back, but this time for a different reason. They were right. This was "awesome," "impressive" and worthy of congratulations.
And I needed every single comment to believe it. So if you were one of those people, thank you and know that you made a huge difference in my day.


Ericka Lang Go nicki go


When I stripped away my time, my place and my comparison to the other triathletes, I realized I had so much FUN! The lake water didn't scare me...sure I sidestroked more than planned, but I completed a 750 meter open water swim.  For the biking portion, my legs felt tired but good and I was able to take in the beautiful scenery around me on the longest ride I've ever ridden on a bike. For the 5k, my time was only 1 minute and 30 seconds slower than it was when I ran ONLY a 5k on fresh legs the previous week at Dam to Dam.

Comparing myself to myself was only possible on the run, but something I should have considered all along. Because I'd never done a triathlon before, I looked to compare myself to others. Others who probably had done this before. Others who probably put in more time at the pool and on their bikes. Others who are younger, older, bigger, smaller and just plain others. They're not me.

It's interesting to me that I didn't compare myself to others who didn't do the race. I didn't for a second think, well, I'm beating people sitting on the couch today. I feel like this is a fault of humans. We're always comparing ourselves to those we think are "better, richer, faster," than us, not evaluating how we stack up against ourselves and if we feel good about what we have, who we are, and how we feel when we look in the mirror. Because when I look in the mirror I feel good. My downfall in the triathlon was when my eyes went to the side and I saw how much better everyone else was doing. My confidence went to the porta pot.

Now that I've had 24 hours to think about it, rather than negative emotions, I feel proud, both of my competitors and more importantly of myself. I wasn't against them on the swim, the bike or the run, I was against me. And I did it. I checked off my bucket list goal of completing a triathlon. I finished strong, both on the outside, and eventually, with the help of others, on the inside as well.

Next time I think about comparing myself to others, I'll remember: "Don't!"

As an added bonus, I found out I have the best husband in the world, (not that I'm comparing ;)
Love is absolutely an overabundance of Facebook posts about your partner competing in a triathlon and making sure they have enough chocolate milk to drink afterward. No pity parties allowed.
Thank you, Mr. Lindquist. I love you!