Hi everyone! I now have a Facebook page that I will be doing the majority of my posting on. I would love to have you join me there! The address is:
Hi everyone! I now have a Facebook page that I will be doing the majority of my posting on. I would love to have you join me there! The address is:
With my oldest starting Kindergarten next week, I’m a mixture of emotions. There is a sense of sadness (I will miss my time with that little dude), there is a sense of relief (my house will be way less chaotic with only one kiddo at home), there is a sense of nervousness (I hope he likes school, I hope he makes friends easily, I hope he behaves!). As he moves on to this next stage, I have had so many thoughts swirling in my head about all that is in store for him over the next thirteen years. I decided to compile some of these thoughts—some to share with him now, some for down the road. I hope that they will serve him well.
From the time you were born, I have been preparing you (and myself) for this day. When I walk away from that classroom on your first day of Kindergarten, I know it will be a bittersweet moment. I hope your dad and I have equipped you with what you need to succeed as you take this next big step. But I can’t help but feel like I should have taught you more…so here goes my attempt to impart some last minute words of wisdom…
So my sweet boy, as I hand you over to your teachers for the next 13 years, I can’t wait to see how your future unfolds. I hope these words will help you along the way!
P.S. I plan to hug you for at least 10 minutes when I drop you off on your first day so be prepared. It will be the first of many times that I embarrass you.
Today I looked in the rear view mirror and caught a glimpse of you, staring out the window, your eyes taking in the sunshine and the scenery rushing by. In that moment, you no longer looked like my baby, but rather a little boy. How many times have I glanced back at you in the last two years and wished you would stay little forever…too many to count.
In the days and months ahead, I will look in that same rear view mirror and I imagine I will see a little boy ready for his first soccer practice, or with his t-ball cap perched on top of his head…and not too long after that a Kindergartner, all dressed up for his first day of school, a mixture of excitement and nervousness on his face. Perhaps he will look up and smile at me, and my breath will catch in my throat as I get swallowed up by that toothy grin and wonder how all the days at home with him have slipped by so fast.
In no time at all, I will look in that rear view mirror and see a teenager. Maybe that teen will be lost in thought, and my heart will ache for the days when there was non-stop chatter coming from the back seat, or the sweet sounds of off-key singing. If I am lucky, I will catch that teenager’s eye, and I will smile at him and he will smile back at me—a simple reassurance that despite the quiet car ride, everything is o.k. in his world.
Eventually, I will look in the rear view mirror and see a boy that has turned into a man, with a graduation cap positioned where his little league cap used to sit. This time, I hope there will be excitement about the future written all over his face. And if he looks closely at my reflection, he will see the tears forming in his mother’s eyes, as I process my own feelings of pride mixed with sadness that this stage of life is over. For in my mind, it was just yesterday that I was looking back at a Kindergartner on his first day of school.
And not too long after that, it will be his eyes gazing in the rear view mirror as he drives away to begin his next grand adventure. And I will wave goodbye and pray that he knows with EVERY ounce of his being what a blessing it has been to see his precious face reflected in my rear view mirror all of these years…
This winter, I have been feeling like a not-so-nice mama. The many hours of being cooped up inside (along with the snowy and icy roads when I want to go anywhere) have left me anxious and crabby. I have longed to take up residence on a deserted island. (Preferably a tropical one!) I have yelled more than I ever wanted to, or imagined that I would. I have chosen harsh words over extending grace. Impatience over taking a deep breath. I have wept over the ways I have not been the mom that my boys deserve, or the wife my husband married. At times, feelings of failure have crushed my spirit. In the midst of these struggles, I was given a much needed gift…let me explain. As an avid reader, I was looking for the next good book to dive into, but I also desperately wanted some inspirational words. A couple of months ago, I divinely stumbled across some work by Rachel Macy Stafford. The way in which she shared her story really connected with me. Completely open, authentic, and raw. I quickly devoured both her books, and after doing a little more investigating, I saw there was an opportunity to be on the launch team for her newest book. I jumped at the chance, and was thrilled when I was chosen. You might already be familiar with some of Rachel’s work–either through her Hands Free Revolution Facebook page or her handsfreemama.com blog. Well, today is a special day, my friends! Today, Rachel launches her new book, Only Love Today. This mantra, only love today, can mean something different for everyone. For me, it is what I am striving for in my daily interactions with the three precious humans I live with. It reminds me to focus on the good stuff and let go of the bad. It reminds me to be thankful. It reminds me to tune into what matters and let all the background chatter fade away. And perhaps most importantly, it reminds me to give myself some grace. Am I a perfect mom? No. Am I perfect wife? No. Will I ever be? No. But I can let go of yesterday’s mistakes, and I can get up each day and try again.
This book inspired me to start something with my 5-year-old called a double love hug. As I explained to T, this is where we hug with our hearts pressed together and we hold it for a few seconds so the love from my heart can pass into his, and the love from his heart can pass into me. We have been doing it about a week now, and I was delighted this morning when he asked his little brother “O, would you like a double love hug?” The truth is that there will come a day (probably sooner than I realize) where I will ask him if he wants a double love hug and he will say “No thanks, Mom.” So I’m going to soak it up right now. I’m going to ask for and give these hugs as often as I can.
So friends, if you are in need of some inspirational, bite-sized nuggets of wisdom, I encourage you to check out Only Love Today. All of Rachel’s writing has been a blessing to me, and I want to share it so it can be a blessing to others as well.
I was dropping my oldest off at Pre-K the other day when I passed a group of kids sitting around a table in the school foyer. As I passed by, I heard one of them say something about Santa and one of the older kids said in response “Well, you know Santa isn’t real.” I didn’t hear the rest of the conversation, as my boys were on a mission to get to T’s classroom, but I can only imagine the confusion and perhaps dismay that probably entered into some of the younger ones’ minds. At that moment, I was thankful that I was not going to be one of the parents fielding a million questions that night about Santa and his “realness.” I still live in my boys’ world of wonder, of make-believe—the world of Easter Bunnies and Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. I’m not sure when the conversation with T will arise about the “realness” of any of these magical creatures, but I am certainly not ready for it. And please, T, for the love of all things holy, do not ask me where babies come from, because I’m not ready for that either. Are storks still a legit answer? 🙂
A few weeks ago, we took my boys and my nephew to a Christmas breakfast at the local high school. Santa and his elves were there, and I told T ahead of time that he would be able to tell Santa what he would like for Christmas this year. In years past, he has been a bit weary of Santa, but this year he was all in. As we waited in line, my nephew (who is 6) pulled me aside and whispered into my ear…
L: I have to tell you something.
Me: What is it?
L: That Santa sitting up there is not real.
O.K…here is where I start to panic…what is he going to say? Shouldn’t this be a conversation for his parents? I’m not READY for this! I started to sweat a little bit.
Me: What do you mean?
L: Well, we saw the real Santa last year, and he doesn’t wear glasses. This guy has on glasses.
Me: Oh, well, um…I wonder if the real Santa is busy today. Maybe this is one of his relatives helping out?
L: Yeah, I think it is one of his relatives that also has a beard. But don’t tell O and T. Because then they would be like “Why did we come here?”
I promised that I would keep the secret, and he played along with this Santa imposter for his cousins’ sake. (On a side note, I had no idea that Santa now sports an earring and graduated from Washington State University!)
As the youngest of four, I’m certain that I was the last in my family to believe in Santa. I guess I never had any reason to doubt his realness. We didn’t have a fireplace growing up, but he STILL managed to deliver our presents. I was very impressed by that, but didn’t quite understand how he did it. One year, my brother and I were determined to catch him in the act, so we convinced my parents to let us sleep on the fold-out couch in the living room. Much to my surprise, the next morning there was a Rainbow Brite toy on the back of the couch. Santa had done it again!! All of this belief came to an abrupt halt one Christmas…I had gone shopping with my mom and she had bought my brother a chemistry set. And then Santa gave it to him. It didn’t take long for me to put two and two together. I’m sure in her busy state of trying to prepare Christmas for four kids, my mom had forgotten that I was with her on that particular shopping trip. I remember feeling confused and then really sad once the realization sunk in. I’m sure it wasn’t too long after that when I came to terms with the truth about the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy. And that is why part of me wanted to run back to that table of kids talking Santa in the school foyer, to “undo” what that big kid had done. Because kids grow up way too fast these days. The magic of childhood and make-believe is lost too fast. I treasure these days when T is so excited about Santa, and I’m glad that I have at least a few more years (here’s hoping!) before the inevitable conversation occurs. I’m pretty sure it will go something like this…
T: Mom, is Santa real?
Me: Um…what? So hey, do you have any questions about babies? Remember that opening scene in Dumbo…you know…the one with the storks?
Introvert or extrovert? I’m sure at one point or another we have all taken one of those personality tests that label us a certain way. Or maybe you have drawn your own conclusions about your personality type. This has always been more of a gray area for me…I haven’t ever easily identified myself as one or the other. Rather, I have often wondered if I am an extroverted introvert or maybe an introverted extrovert. 🙂 I certainly have done a lot of things that I would consider to be extrovert-like. In junior high and high school, I was involved in various sports and clubs and loved every minute of being on a team and making friends from other schools. In college, I was a Resident Advisor, I joined a sorority, and studied abroad. I loved being around other people. When I lived on my own for the first time post college, it was truly one of the loneliest times in my life. Now I have this blog, and while it is a solo endeavor, I don’t mind sharing my thoughts and feelings with anyone who is willing to listen. 😉 So I would say that I am people person—I generally like being around people and learning about other people. But there is definitely an introverted side to me as well. I don’t like being the center of attention and in a big groups, I tend to be on the quieter side. I like having alone time (this has become even more treasured after having kids) and there are times when I want to just hide in a corner, last night being a perfect example. I went to a training event for my business, and I knew going in that I wasn’t going to know a single soul in the room. When I got there and saw people chatting in groups and I knew no one, my introverted self immediately wanted to head for the nearest exit sign. In the end, my extroverted self—the side of my personality that continually strives to push my introverted self out of her comfort zone—won out and I didn’t bolt for the nearest door. There was another consultant who shared my same fate of not knowing another soul, so we connected and spared each other some awkwardness. 🙂 I guess it is human nature (or at least my nature) to want to make a connection and not be “alone”. My husband would probably say he is an introverted introvert. While traveling last spring, we took 3 Uber rides. Our first driver was fairly friendly and chatty. The other two were not. At all. I tried to make a very odd situation (hopping into a car with some random person who you just met) less awkward by trying to keep a conversation going, but I finally took the hint. They really weren’t very interested in making conversation. Afterwords, I told my husband how weird it felt to just sit in silence while someone I didn’t know drove me around town. He had the exact opposite reaction. He was thankful that he didn’t have to make small talk. 🙂 I would say we have passed some pretty mixed genetic material to our children, and I wonder how that will impact their personalities and life experiences.
T has always been my more reserved, shy kid, pretty cautious when it comes to new situations. When he was a toddler, he would cling to me like saran wrap, eventually maybe loosening his grip as he became more familiar with a situation. But many a dollar was spent going to places that in theory I thought he would enjoy, only to have him attached to my leg the whole time. I signed him up for soccer this fall honestly not knowing how it would go, but wanting to provide him with an opportunity to interact with other kids his age outside of school while also getting some good exercise. He has surprised me with his willingness to jump right in, and it has been a great joy for me to see him racing around the soccer fields, having fun with his teammates. His pre-school teacher has noticed a difference at school too. He is being more social overall than he was last year and made fast friends with another little guy in his class. So I would say that socially he is feeling more comfortable. Then yesterday we had this conversation…
Me: So who did you play with at school today? Did you play with K?
T: I played with him a little bit. But not very much.
Me: Who else did you play with?
T: I didn’t really play with anyone. I mostly played by myself.
Me: Oh, well that’s o.k. Sometimes Mommy likes to be by herself too.
Inside, this mama’s heart got a little sad, and my mind filled with questions. “Does K not like playing with T anymore? Was T feeling lonely at school? Will it be hard for him to maintain friendships?” And then I realized that I was putting my own personality filter on this situation, and that T might have been perfectly content playing on his own. After all, he hadn’t expressed any sadness about playing by himself and maybe he was longing for a little alone time.
As for this introvert/extrovert, I try to continue to find ways for the extroverted side of my personality to strut her stuff, but man, I’m going to enjoy the heck out of some alone time tonight when the kids are asleep! 🙂
It takes a village to raise a child. I am guessing we are all familiar with this sentiment. Before having kids, that phrase would evoke images of the community where I grew up–Where everyone knew everyone else. Where my best friend’s parents were like my second set of parents because they had literally known me since birth. Where I went trick-or-treating without my parents hovering because I knew the owners of every house I went to. Where if I got in trouble, everyone would know about it, so I didn’t dare! Where in junior high, my neighbor drove me to basketball practice every morning because it was on the way. And in high school, her daughter let me catch a ride home almost every day. There are so many other examples, but you get the picture. It was a community of parents helping each other out in big ways and small ways. While there is no doubt that my parents provided the main influence on my upbringing, the “village” helped raise me.
So fast forward to today. My view of “It takes a village to raise a child” has changed a bit. I don’t live in a small tight-knit community anymore. I don’t rely on other parents in the same ways in which my parents did. My village looks a lot different and is spread over many geographical miles. Some of my fellow villagers are dear friends. Others I don’t know well at all. Some may never interact directly with my boys, but they still provide support in very meaningful ways. It is the ways in which the other mothers in my village have supported ME that has made such a powerful impact. Let’s face it, parenting is hard and when you are struggling with an issue, it is SO easy to feel like you are alone with your problem. You don’t want to admit to certain thoughts or feelings. You feel like you should be better at this whole parenting thing, especially when you are at a total loss for what to do next. And that is exactly when you should reach out to your village. Let me share a little story with you…
Lately, my 4-year-old has been testing my patience. Although I routinely clean the wax out of his ears, it appears they are plugged on most days because it seems like he doesn’t listen to half of what comes out of my mouth. (I can only imagine what the teenager years will bring..yikes!) The last couple of months have been a real struggle, and when my frustration reaches its peak, the volume on my voice tends to exceed where I would like it to be. There was one afternoon a couple weeks ago where I was at the end of my rope. The listening wasn’t happening, and this mama was losing her cool. I yelled at T to go to his room. He wouldn’t go. So I picked him up and carried him as he wailed and flailed against my shoulder. I put him on the floor and shut the door, holding tight to the door handle as he tried to open the door from the other side. I felt totally defeated. Where was I going wrong? Why wouldn’t he listen to me? Why was I letting myself get so frustrated so easily? As he continued to cry on the other side of the door, I also began to weep. I thought to myself “There has got to be a better way, but I have no idea what that is. Right now I’m sucking at this whole motherhood thing.” I opened the door and sunk down to my knees. He crawled into my lap and we cried together. Not my finest moment. I had the chance last weekend to share this latest struggle with a group of girlfriends. We all have kids that are different ages, and I truly treasure the time spent with these women. As I was relating this story and the tears began to form in my eyes, my villagers did exactly what I needed them to do. They offered words of empathy and encouragement and they shared their own “been there, done that” moments. My heart felt so much lighter afterwords. Did I come away with the perfect solution to my problem? No. But just knowing that other mothers who I greatly respect have been in my shoes and have felt the same feelings makes a huge difference.
I hope all mothers have a village where they can get the kind of love and support that my village continues to pour out on me. My village continues to bless my sons by being a blessing to me.
I spent many hours this past weekend working on a retaining wall—a fairly large one that is a heck of a lot of work. For you Game of Thrones fans, it felt like I was building THE wall. 🙂 While spending time digging, and placing blocks, and leveling, and more leveling (did I mention leveling?), I had a lot of time to just get lost in my thoughts. I usually end up thinking about parenting and my kids (since that is what my main focus is these days) and this time was no different.
Before embarking on this project, I consulted my sister, the home improvement queen. The main piece of advice she gave me was to make sure the first row of blocks were level—front to back and side to side. Turns out, this is fairly challenging. It requires a lot of little adjustments. If they aren’t level, you might not notice it much at first. But then you add another layer…and another…and if the base layer isn’t level you will soon discover that you have a disaster at the top. I feel like motherhood is a lot like this. How many times have we heard the saying (or something similar) “You have to take care of yourself first before you can really take care of anyone else.” This makes a lot of sense in theory—it is much harder to put into practice in reality. There are more times than I would care to count when I have not taken good care of myself and my reserves have been pretty well spent. When you add the “layers” of everyday stress and parenting responsibilities on top of that shaky foundation, things start to get out of balance pretty quickly. This part of parenting is still a work in progress for me (much like my retaining wall, which isn’t yet finished. Did I mention how much leveling there is? 🙂 )
After spending many hours working on the wall, I stepped back on Sunday night to take a look at my progress. There were many more stones to lay, but I felt like I had gotten a lot done, and that felt great! (Minus the backache). One thing that I didn’t really ever think about missing when I chose to be a stay at home mom was the feeling you get after you accomplish something. I’ll be honest—cleaning up mess after mess does not feel like much of an accomplishment. 🙂 And at what point do you get to say you “accomplished” raising your kids? After 18 years? 30 years? When they move out of your basement? When you stay at home all day with your kiddos, it is not as easy (in my opinion) to find that sense of accomplishment as it is in a typical job. I think that is why I enjoy working on house projects so much. Building a retaining wall, painting the laundry room, planting a garden—those are things that I can easily point to and say “Hey, lookie there! I did that today!” Of course I could always go around pointing at my children and saying “yep, I did that.” But that is just awkward. Instead, I just plaster their cute faces all over FB and ramble on about them in my blog. 🙂
As a stay-at-home parent, the question I find myself being asked on a regular basis is “Mom, what are we going to do all day?” Usually, my response is “Hmm….good question!” Most days I don’t really have much of a plan, and we just see where the day takes us. This morning it was rainy, and we were all going a wee bit stir crazy, so I figured a field trip to story-time at the library would be a great idea. O.K…maybe not a great idea (who am I kidding?) but an idea that with any luck (and some mild sedatives) one that I might not regret 5 minutes after arriving. As it turns out, I was fresh out of mild sedatives (for myself or the boys) so I just had to depend on luck. This is a recap of our morning at the library.
10:25 We arrive at library and find story-time room.
10:26 T asks if we can go home.
10:28 O has wandered around the room and decides to start disassembling my wallet.
10:29 O sees another mom with an open lap and plops himself down.
10:29 I apologize to other mom. She’s cool with it. O stays in her lap.
10:30 Librarian starts story-time.
10:32 O discovers coins in my wallet and starts to play with them.
10:33 T asks if we can go home.
10:34 O walks over to me to show me the coins. T sees them and immediately grabs them from O. O starts to have a hissy.
10:35 O goes back to his new mom friend, discovers an unzipped diaper bag and starts rifling through it. I retrieve him.
10:36 T asks if we can go home.
10:37 Librarian switches to a story that involves putting little felt cats on a flannel board. O runs to the front of the room and starts grabbing at the felt cats.
10:38 I take both boys out of story-time and head to the childrens’ section of the library where they discover a train set. Hallelujah!
10:39 O discovers all the DVDs positioned right next to the train set. Uh-oh.
10:40-10:45 O rifles through all the DVDs (no one is watching, right?) while T plays with the train set.
10:46 I attempt to take the boys back to story-time. O is not happy with this plan.
10:47. We leave story-time area and head back to train-set.
10:48-10:52 O continues to rifle through the DVDs.
10:53 One last attempt at story-time.
10:54 O bolts for the door.
10:55 We head back to train area to pick out a couple of DVDs.
10:57 I wrangle an unhappy O to the front desk.
10:58 We check out DVDs.
11:00 We head for the car.
11:01 O sits down in the parking lot and turns into a limp noodle. (you know what I’m talking about)
11:02 We finally make it to the car.
11:05 Both kids are buckled in and we get the heck out of there.
11.06 T says from the backseat “Mom, what are we going to do all day?”
Hmm….good question! 🙂
My first trip to Vegas was during spring break when I was a senior in college. I had no idea what to expect. I just knew that the big city lights were calling my name and that I wanted an adventure. So three of my besties and I booked our tickets, reserved a hotel room, and hopped a plane for our first Vegas adventure. We did all the “Vegasy” things. (That is a word, right?) We gambled. We went dancing at a club. We stayed out late. We even went to a Thunder from Down Under show and giggled during the whole thing. 🙂
This latest trip to Vegas was really nothing like that first trip (though it is my cardinal rule that I never visit Vegas without playing some slots.) This was our first kids-free vacation since before O was born, and I had been counting down the days until our departure—I desperately needed a break and some quality time with my hubby.
Throughout our time in Vegas, I found myself thinking about the differences between the trips I took to Vegas before becoming a parent and this latest trip now that I am a mom of two young boys.
Before kids—Day 1. Let’s walk the whole strip and go to every single hotel and check out every free show. There is no time to waste!
After kids—Day 1. The only hotel I care about is the one I am staying at, and it better have a really comfortable bed, because I am about 4 years overdue on the nap that I WILL be taking. Let’s not waste our time walking around when those precious hours could be spent snoozing without interruption.
Before kids—Just sitting around seems really, really, boring. I didn’t fly all the way down here to sit in the hotel lobby. Let’s find something to do!
After kids—Just sitting around and having no agenda whatsoever seems like the best.thing.ever. I am not moving from this chair unless nature calls or someone pulls the fire alarm and they make me leave this chair (which, by the way, has no cracker crumbs or boogers on it).
Before kids—I would look at parents traipsing around with their kids in tow and really have NO clue what it took to travel with young children and keep them from running wildly down the Vegas strip.
After kids—I would look at parents with kids and think “Why in the heck did you bring your kids with you to Vegas?” I found myself admiring their efforts and thinking they were crazy at the same time. And my next thought would be “Man, I miss my kids. I would give anything to give them a hug right now.”
Before kids—Did I just see what I think I saw? Whoa!
After kids—Did I just see what I think I saw? Whoa!
I guess some things in Vegas never change. 🙂