Natural Highs…

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It’s what makes you smile and it’s different for everyone.

I enjoy a glass of wine with the best of them, but I’m talking about the little things that evoke pure joy.  They have nothing to do with drugs or alcohol, but they still give you that buzz.

For me, it’s singing at the top of my lungs to my favorite tunes, alone in the car, completely uninhibited.  My taste includes everything from country to alternative and has changed alot over the years to whoever “speaks to me” at the time.  Right now I can’t get enough of

Miranda Lambert, Sugarland, Lori McKenna and the Dixie Chicks.

When I was younger, my family/friends would call me the karaoke queen.  Not because I was the best singer, but because I loved it so much.  However, as outgoing as I am, I’ve always had terrible stagefright.  I would debate all night what to sing, 10,000 Maniacs or “Me and Bobby McGee” by Janis Joplin.  I’d freak out before they called my name and literally shake through the first few bars of a song, but, as soon as I got going and found a focal point to just let loose, it was/still is one of my favorite “highs!”

I know I’m not going to be “the next big thing.”  I never studied music and can’t read it, never took voice lessons, but I enjoy it.  It’s fun and freeing to tap into all that emotion when a song speaks to you.

What is YOUR natural high?

 

 

Independent

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You know that part in “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” where Hermey and Rudolph talk about being “inde-pen-dent”?
In the few weeks Brianna has been in preschool, I’m noticing some big changes.

I can do it Mom!!

is a familiar phrase now in our house, and I’m happy to let her try! (most of the time!)
After seeing her classmate climb into her car and get into her own car seat, she now does the same.  “What a big girl you are!” I tell her!   She also can go to the bathroom all by herself.  She was potty trained before preschool, but now, there’s the routine.  She flicks the light on, goes, wipes her own butt and washes her hands. Hallelujah!  It’s the little things, right?  She also likes to help herself to whatever she can grab on the counter or open the pantry, so that, we need to work on, because if I tell her “No, we’re not having fruit snacks again today” she will go right in there, grab one and demand I open it so she can eat them.

She’s also singing new songs that I don’t yet know the words too and have asked her to teach me.  “How was your day?” I always ask her when I pick her up, “Good” “What did you do today?”  “I can’t tell you Mom” I get sometimes, or “I’ll tell you later, can we listen to Frozen?”  So, I don’t push right away, and instead have learned I get snipits throughout the day, a little story here and there about her friends, or who pushed who in line, a song, the playground, what she ate. I’m learning too, that even though I want to know about every little moment during the day, that’s part of me letting her have her independence.  But, I’m happy to help when she can’t quite get her sneakers on or can’t figure out how to get her shirt off or her pants on.

 

September

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Fall Foliage!

September has always been one of my favorite months, I absolutely love fall. I look forward to the crisp weather, fairs, Halloween, the leaves changing, I absolutely love it.
But this one is TOUGH.
I was warned by friends about what happened when their children turned 3.
I hoped my child was the exception.
No such luck. September birthday.
I am frustrated on a daily basis by the behavior of my 3 year, Brianna. I often times end up in tears or so frustrated by dinner time I look like I’ve been through the emotional equivalent of a tornado by the time my husband gets home. It’s exhausting. How can such a little girl ruffle my feathers so much? It’s like she knows exactly which buttons to push and when, and even snickers about it. She has this evil little grin when she knows shes done something wrong and just doesn’t give a damn.
Brianna is sweet and sensitive, extremely smart and talkative.
She’s still all of those things, BUT, now she’s also willful, angry, emotional and frankly miserable sometimes.

“Good morning!” we always say to each other first thing, from there, it usually goes downhill, quickly.
“I want to watch something” she says, everyday. (we let her watch TV recently when she didn’t feel good and we’ve created a monster!) “Not until we have our breakfast and get dressed” I now say everyday, “you have school today.” (I have to use it as a bargaining tool at this point to get out of the door. By the time she stops fighting me about everything and actually sits down to watch something, it amounts to about 5 minutes!) She usually responds with some sort of whiny cry. “Time for breakfast!” Generally something goes wrong when I say, “want mommy to make you eggs?” NO! she screams, like I just suggested running over her favorite doll or something.

I WANT SPECIAL K!

“Umm, ok, I say, in my calm, well-rested voice (at this time of the day), “there’s no reason to yell, go and sit down and use your manners”, “PLLLUUEASE and THANKK YOUUUU!” she says. Often times, just looking at the bowl of cereal will send her into a tizzy, after all, it IS what she asked for, but a girl can change her mind, right?! Somehow, we manage to get some food and water into her belly. The next battle is what to wear. I know she wants to have some sort of a say, but it’s gotten waay out of control. She’s been hitting and kicking. She just doesn’t like anything or what she does want to wear doesn’t match or needs socks that she doesn’t want to wear. “Ok, I say, but you’re missing out on TV time, hurry, hurry!” (the TV thing seems to work just as well as the jelly bean bribes for potty training, it’s all about survival!) Next battle? the shoes. Then, it’s getting out the door. It always includes more tears and anxiety about going to school, so I use the “Frozen” soundtrack for the next step. “Remember, Elsa is in the car and wants to sing to you!” That usually helps. The final protest happens right in the classroom, where she repeatedly asks for a hug and a kiss, which we happily oblige. “You can have more than 1 we say!” We tell her how much fun she’s going to have, all the friends she’ll make and how we’ll see her in a few minutes.
Today, I’m happy to say, I actually got a “goodbye Mom!” HURRAY! Progress! An actual acknowledgement that she’s ok!
She had her 3 year old physical this week and the doctor asked me how it’s going, I was honest and told her it’s been a struggle lately. She said,

I have two daughters and 3 is the worst and September is really hard, October will be better.

I hope so, until then, I guess I’ll just have to get used to time-outs, tears and lots of extra hugs for the both of us and a glass of vino (or 2) for me!”

“These are a few of my favorite things…”

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The other day, my daughter’s and I were listening to the Disney channel on Pandora when I heard a familiar sound. It’s amazing how some of these songs bring back memories, including, Julie Andrews singing, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9wDj4gH10ak

“These are a few of my favorite things…” from the “Sound of Music”. I made a mental note to watch the classic with them as I watched their faces light up as I sang along. But, it also got me thinking about their favorite things.
So, in honor of my oldest daughter, Brianna, here are a few of her favorite things, on today, her 3rd birthday:

vanilla ice cream with rainbow sprinkles on top (she specifically only likes whip cream on her finger, not actually on the cup of ice cream!) b ice cream word press
Mama Duck (her bedtime friend that resembles a rubber ducky for the bath)
Her Reed bracelet (really made of beads, but when she was smaller, she could never say the “b” so it stuck!)
Happy Meals with chicken mcnuggets
the song “Wagon Wheel” by Darius Rucker:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hvKyBcCDOB4

“Frozen”

an “Elsa” braid
Raisins or craisins (“in a bowl please Mom!”)
animal crackers
fruit snacks
Smartfood
Slides
Sheriff Callie’s Wild West (along with the lasso she has, she has also named her toy horses “Sparky” and “Clementine) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yRjKlJm_DxM
Dance Parties in the living room (where she mostly jumps like Tigger)
donkeys
Her sister Addison
her dog Jake (she calls him “little bud”)
her cousins (who she requests by name at least every other day)
reading (specifically, she likes us to read her a book, and then she says “now I want to read that”)

Happy 3rd Birthday, my sweet, sensitive, smart, sassy, silly beautiful little girl!

Mama loves you SOO much! bday girl wordpress

First Day Jitters

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Could it be that I have first day of school jitters but my daughter doesn’t?

Who will give her a hug if she’s nervous? Who will take her to the potty? What if she’s hungry or thirsty? What if someone picks on her?  I know, I know.  It’s part of growing up.  For my daughter and I!  She’ll be three very soon and although she’s still very much my little girl, it’s time for me to let go, just a LITTLE! I know it’s a good thing when she doesn’t need mommy by her side all the time, in fact, I’m glad, it means she’s embracing the little bit of independence we’ve given her.  I’m proud of her.

My husband and I both think she’s ready for preschool, even though she’ll be one of the youngest in the class.  She’s smart and friendly and very social.  But it’s all new, so I’m sure it’ll be an adjustment.  I’m excited for her to bond with her very first teacher, make her first friends and learn new things!
The school has been very helpful in talking about the transition.  She got to meet her teacher and see her classroom in the spring.  bplayground wordpressThis summer, I took her to the playground and reminded her again of where her classroom was and what it looked like.  We’ll have orientation the day before.  We’ve picked out her backpack and explained

“mommy or daddy will drop you off, you’ll listen to your teacher, play and make new friends and then mommy or daddy will come and pick you up.”

I think we’ve done a good job preparing her as much as we can for what she can expect up until this point, we just won’t be able to really know, until we drive away.
I know that’s the moment I’ll cry.  Not because I’m sad, but I’m so proud of her.  My little girl, my first born, is having her first day of school!  I am eager for her peers and teacher to know my smart, silly, beautiful, talkative little preschooler!  In the meantime, I’ve got my cellphone and Kleenex, just in case!

“I want to go see the donkey!”

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b donkey wordpress“There he is, Mom!!” Brianna says as she sprints towards the donkey!
Bandit is his name and my daughter absolutely adores him!
The farm friend is part of the quaint petting zoo at Burke Ridge Farm in Ellington.
We often pass the farm on our way to various errands and have stopped more than a handful of times since Brianna was born.

Tammy and Tilley, mother-daughter goats and pig wordpress3 little pigs named Sour Patch, Suzie Q and Double Stuff all live there. You can feed them or the fish in the nearby pond for a quarter, but the smiles you’ll get are priceless.
I promised Brianna we’d go again before school started to visit the donkey and get ice cream.b ice cream word press
a cow wordpressAddison was partial to the fake cow and the barn dogs which are friendly but would rather be left alone than chased by children!barn dog wordpress
The farm is open from May until Halloween so there’s plenty of time for a visit! If you’re a big fan of anything fall, like I am, then you’ll want to catch a hayride to their pumpkin patch. We’ve been in years past and look forward to it again this year (they’re working on the logistics). You’ll learn all about the farms rich history and the beef they raise. Then, the tractor stops and you get to pick your own pumpkin right out of the patch! An authentic fall activity for the family I look forward to just as much as my daughters do!
They also have cute little trinkets and seasonal decorations for sale.
Check out their website or call for more information on upcoming activities.

4 great days followed by… ugh

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I had a great week.
I saw somecousinspark wordpress friends I hadn’t seen in a while, went for a walk almost every day, then took my nieces to the park with my daughters & I.  The park had animals, a playground and some beautiful gardens where we had a silly photo shoot!

I thought I had escaped my Thursday curse by getting out of the house & exercising them to exhaustion.  I followed it up with an overdue night out with my sister.

meandliz wordpressNo major meltdowns, good bonding time for the cousins, and great adult conversation for me! Good day!

Then, Friday came. The day most of us wait for all week. You made it. TGIF. All that. But it sucked.

From the moment the girls got up, they were in a foul mood. Addison whined nonstop, didn’t want to be put down and forget about playing independently.

Brianna woke up thinking she was entitled to do whatever she wanted and started demanding to watch shows on TV. Then came breakfast. I’m no super mom, but once or twice a week I make eggs, nothing fancy, just scrambled, they also got turkey sausage a piece of cheese and a shared peach!
“Brianna, breakfast is ready!” “She sits down. Looks at it, turns her nose up and says

“ugh I don’t like that.”

Here we go.
I know I’m not alone in the meal battle. Don’t you just want to offer them a chocolate sundae sometimes just to hear “WOW Mom! Thanks. This is delicious!”
I know, I’m living in a fantasy!
After that, the safety gate at the top of the stairs broke and my babysitter cancelled.
I’m trying to “put out fires” everywhere and realized at noon I was still in my PJ’s. (not like one of those college days when you rolled out of bed at that time!)

I know I sound like a whiner too and of course, looking back I know it wasn’t THAT bad, but at the time I just wanted to throw a tantrum of my own! No one ever said being a mom was going to be easy though!!

“Where’s the kids?”

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As I was getting ready, I realized it had been two weeks since I had
done my hair and and put on an outfit that didn’t have a drawstring
. My husband and I had plans to go to a kid-friendly picnic this past weekend. I packed their bathing suits, a swim diaper, some snacks and sweaters, all stuff they would need.
But, at the last minute, we didn’t take them.
I needed a break.
We were at my in-laws’ house and they offered. Although I hesitated and this wasn’t what I planned, I agreed. Between the drive there and the drive back, they would only have a couple of hours at the picnic. On top of that, my youngest, Addison, would be overwhelmed by all the people and in my arms the entire time. I wouldn’t be able to carry on a conversation with people I hadn’t seen in a while, and everyone would be miserable. On the flip side, the girls would be able to take a nap, play, and eat whenever they needed to with their grandparents, who they adored. “Ok” I say, “as long as you don’t mind.”
We left.
Not five minutes in to the car ride, I say to my husband,

I wonder if Addison is screaming right now.

I have no qualms about my in-laws taking care of my daughters whatsoever, I do, however, feel bad if she’s throwing a tantrum. My husband responds,

they’re fine, relax, stop, enjoy yourself.

“That’s the goal!” I say!
Going anywhere, alone, these days feels foreign to me. I’m home with the kids everyday, by choice. BUT, walking into the picnic with nothing but my phone was bizarre. No baby on my hip or holding my hand, no diaper bag, no snacks, just me. I felt super light and smiled. Of course, the first thing everyone asked,

where’s the kids?

We told them, and instead of hearing, “aww, we wanted to see them”, we got mostly “good for you!” I was glad to know I’m not the only one who needs a break. I think many of them wished they could have done the same, and so

I was glad I seized the moment and admitted I needed a break!

I laughed, had some drinks, finished conversations and ate an entire plate of food uninterrupted. I chatted with some other moms about them needing some “me time” as well. Now, I’m in the process of searching for something I’ll do for myself once a week. It might be a class, a night out with friends or just a trip to Target, but it’ll be something, just for me.
Anyway, despite not having to worry about our daughters’ bedtime, I was ready to call it a night by 10.
I couldn’t wait to check on my girls and crawl into bed.
The best gift of all? Two happy girls who were fast asleep and behaved themselves while we were gone. The world didn’t end because I accepted help, it was great, and worked out for everyone.
Thank you “baby whisperer!”

5 under 5

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We just spent a week visiting family on the west coast.
There were a total of 18 of us at one point, including 5 children under 5 years old.
You know how you feel the first time you see an old friend in a while? Like you never left? That’s what the kids acted like, and some of them, had never met, or hadn’t seen in each other in years.
In a word, it was precious.
They took to each other like glue.
Not wanting to ever separate, despite their tiffs here and there.
However, the gathering, of course, included many moments, some hilarious, some frustrating.
I jotted them down on the plane ride home in the form of some quotes:
“hold onto the carriage”
“stop touching that”
“can I watch Frozen?”
“get your hair out of your mouth”
“where’s the pacifier?”
“I need some wine”
“damn it, the milk exploded again!” (on the plane)
“I don’t feel good” (Brianna’s favorite new phrase when we ask her to do something she doesn’t want to)
“do you have to go potty?”
“DRAGONS!” (some game the older kids were running around playing!)
“hold my hand”
“stop yelling”
“Can I watch Frozen? puuhlease?”
“get your shoes on”
“give her/him some space”
“LISTEN!”
“what time did she get her medicine?” (Addison got an ear infection while we were gone)
“you have to eat SOMETHING”
“which one is that?” (upon hearing a child crying)
“SHARE!”
“do you think she’s tired?” (adjusting to time difference was a guessing game!)
more crying
“no I want apple juice”
“what kind of wine are we drinking?”
“stop tattling”
“no jumping on the bed”
“watch out for the baby!”
more crying
more wine drinking

Perspective

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Pardon my french, but I feel like an a-hole.
My husband works in the news business, like I did for 15 years, and unfortunately you hear the worst of the worst. There were days when such horrific things happened, I would come home and cry, and several, including 9/11 and the Newtown School Shootings, where I just lost it right there in the newsroom. When people asked me how I was able to carry out my assignment and write about such awful tragedies, I wouldn’t sugar coat it, I would tell them, it’s awful, and I never wanted to know some of the details I learned about.
This week, I’ve been whining to my husband about my daughters’ behavior when other families are having real, honest to God struggles and heartache. I read a story yesterday about a little boy who was lonely because he couldn’t go to school anymore because of an inoperable brain tumor.
It really puts things into perspective when I’m complaining that one of my daughters is miserable, teething and not a great sleeper and the other one is driving me nuts because she’s almost 3 and fights me on everything. It’s exhausting nonetheless, but thank God they’re healthy. What did I expect when we decided to have children, that it would be easy? Absolutely not, it’s just all about perspective. I thank God for my family every night before I go to sleep, I just need to focus more on the positive and not sweat the small stuff so much. I know it’s not time for a New Year’s resolution, but I always hated the pressure behind those anyway. So, I’m pledging to TRY and focus on all the fantastic moments we have (because we have plenty) rather than wasting all that time bitching about the negative.

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