Simple Pleasures

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Simple Pleasures… My husband had the day off of work. Brianna had the day off of school. I “slept in” until 8 (thanks babe!) We got a much needed walk in, dog in tow. No hurrying. No place to be. Girls got to play and hang out with daddy on a weekday! Happy ladies. I got to run errands alone. Simply awesome. Lost track of time in Target because I wasn’t dodging nap or meal times. I didn’t need to run to the potty with two kids and a carriage. I didn’t need to pick up anyone by a certain time or pay a babysitter for my “me time.” Crossed some things off the to-do list. Ran around as a family in the backyard. First time down the slide of the season. That pile of stubborn snow at the bottom of it finally melted. Bubbles and wagon rides. Giggling girls say “Whee!” as I pull them down a “roller coaster” (hill in the backyard).


“Chase me!” Brianna says. I smile and pretend that I can’t quite catch her yet (but know soon enough I really won’t be able to) She’s so tall and fast! Addison runs half the distance, stops and turns around to keep up. Silly goose.
Ok, so it wasn’t “perfect” we accidentally charred the chicken on the grill.
These are those favorite moments I know someday I’ll look back on so fondly.

Walks With Kids vs Walks Alone

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It’s a battle getting out the door.
“I don’t want to go” Brianna says because I just shut off the TV. Addison says “shoes, shoes, shoes” and runs to grab them because she’s excited. About the same time the dog realizes he hears the word “walk” and starts whining excitedly like a tea kettle that’s boiling and starts stepping all over everyone. “Come on Brianna, you gotta go potty before we go” I say trying to rally her, “the sun is finally shining and it’s warm out (40 degrees but anything is better than this winter!) “I’m not going!” she says. “Yes, you are, it’ll be fun, we’ll look for more rocks.” That usually helps spark her interest a little. Mostly, it’s not about the fact that Brianna hates walks, she just doesn’t like it when I suggest something that’s interrupting what she deems more important or more fun at that moment. I’ve totally relaxed my TV rules a little bit since she gave up her nap, so she had ample “down time” after school. Potty, shoes, jackets, a leash for the dog and 20 minutes later, we’re finally good to go! Not so fast, “Mom, it’s soo bright out” Brianna says. Damn it. Forgot the sunglasses and everyone’s already outside. I tell them not to move an inch and run inside and grab them before the tears start flowing. We get a few steps, about to round the corner, I think we’re in the clear and Addison decides she’s not going to walk anywhere. Her favorite word is “No!” right now. At a year and a half, she’s full of new words and has started stringing them together and I’m so proud of her. But wow, she is one stubborn girl. She just stares at the road and I’m forced to give her a second. What choice do I have? I’ve got her hand in mine, the dog on a leash and Brianna getting a little too far ahead for my comfort! Deep breath, deep breath, deep breath! I entice her by telling her we need to go look for the doggy she loves to talk to around the block! Phew, first crisis averted. There’s puddle jumping, and rock hunting (for their rock garden in the backyard) and now the dog needs to do his business. Tricky. I try to focus on the birds chirping, but we’re moving at a snails pace and trying to keep up with Brianna. I don’t blame her, she’s excited now that she’s out and about and forgot all about the TV I shut off.
It takes us a long time, and we don’t get very far, but it’s important to me that my children get fresh air and exercise, even if at this point it seems like more trouble than it’s worth.
The next day, I penciled in a walk, alone. I had a few minutes after I got my work done and before I picked up Brianna from preschool. I heard the birds chirping, let my mind wander and took a lot of deep breaths. Fresh air and sunshine is like free therapy to me! I feel better after only 20 minutes! I know how challenging it can be to carve out some time for yourself, but when you get the opportunity, seize it! There’s always a “to-do” list, but there isn’t always sunshine or an opportunity to get some “me time”. Do it when you can, as often as you can. It’s easy to put yourself on the back burner when you have kids, but when mama is happy, isn’t everyone else happier?!

She used to be the “easy” one

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Addison used to be the “easy” one.
She would wake up with a smile on her face, jumping up and down in her crib, chanting, “Mommy” or “Daddy.” I couldn’t wait to pick her up and snuggle her and give her a hug and a kiss.
But, we’ve hit some sort of a rough patch.
Is it her teeth? Is the medicine for her seemingly non-stop ear infections not working again? Is she growing? Or has she just been in a bad mood for a week? Am I missing something? Or is this just a phase?
My gut says she’s testing us.
I’m guessing it’s a behavioral milestone that you can’t read about in one of those parenting manuals you wish existed but would never have time to read. I suspect she’s trying to communicate and working so hard on learning her words that she’s just plain frustrated.
I realize using the adjective “easy” isn’t exactly the right thing to say as her mom, but I’m not perfect either.
Brianna, on the other hand, was a super easy baby. Great sleeper, sweet temperament, very chatty. However, when she turned three, things shifted. She was no longer the “easy” one. She’s stubborn. She is also smart, sensitive, sassy and opinionated. I couldn’t possibly love her anymore. That being said, 3 is a challenge. She often laughs when I ask her to do something and seems to work in slow motion, especially when we need to get anywhere. Frankly she’s not the best listener and sometimes only responds to me raising my voice. (I know, I’m not proud, but it’s the truth) She’s moody too. Sometimes, if I ask her to do something she doesn’t want to, she’ll say, “I don’t like you.” (Well, the feeling is mutual at that moment, my love!) Perhaps one of the biggest challenges, she’s a lot like me, so we just clash sometimes. However, she’s been pretty amazing this past week and I’ve told her so!
So, did my daughters have some sort of secret meeting deciding to switch places for a bit? Addison says (if she could) “hey, I’ve been pretty agreeable lately, how about I just start whining more?” Brianna responds by saying, “sure, you’ve got a deal, I’ll behave for a while.”
Even Brianna keeps asking me, “why is Addison crying?” Sadly, mama doesn’t always know.
I know part of my frustration is that I can’t always “fix” it when my girls aren’t happy. When I have any inkling my children might be sick, I’m at the doctor. ( In fact, I seriously thought about leaving a sleeping bag at the pediatrician’s office this past winter!) They had a lot of colds, coughs and ear infections.
So, when there doesn’t seem to be anything physically wrong, I can’t help but be frustrated because no medicine is going to make her feel better. Part of growing up I guess. Her, as a little girl, and me as her Type A, frazzled mom!

In the meantime, I’m just trying to manage the whining when I can’t pick her up that second or crying when I have to leave the room to do the laundry or make dinner or God forbid, go to the bathroom! I’ve been trying so hard to get to the bottom of her crankiness by encouraging her to use her words and show me what she needs. When all else fails, I let her have her tantrum (even on the floor of a department store the other day) and am there with a big hug and a kiss when it’s all over. As I get ready to publish this blog, my girls are giggling and happy. Of course; mommy guilt anyone?!! Seriously though, nothing makes me happier than when they are content!

A friend of mine recently said to me: “I can’t complain, I have two beautiful daughters… it’s normal to feel frustrated and not everyday is wonderful.” I couldn’t have said it better myself. I’m so blessed, but sometimes I just need to vent and writing is therapeutic for me!

Toddler Tears

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She’s not such a baby anymore.
My youngest, Addison, is dabbling in her words, her hair is long enough for barrettes and she runs instead of walks. My little muffin is not dainty or shy with other kids. She is a silly clown who has such a great sense of humor and mimics every move her oldest sister makes. She pretends to feed her dolls. She climbs and gives great hugs and is very amused by herself.
However, by no means is she perfect. Addison throws a tantrum just like every other child when I tell her “No!” and whines and pushes my buttons sometimes. But, what’s really been a struggle for me is leaving her. Not for long periods of time, but for a couple hours here and there during the week so I can work. Although I “work from home” that arrangement doesn’t work all that well when your daughter is screaming because she wants you rather than the babysitter. I not only enjoy working, it’s necessary for my family. What kills me is the tears. Every time the babysitter arrives, she clings to me and gets upset. I don’t leave right away, I give her a few minutes, but try and make my goodbyes as brief as possible.
Addison doesn’t know that it’s just as hard for momma to see those tears. I check in with the babysitter 20 or so minutes later to make sure she’s calmed down so I can focus on my work. I usually get a “she’s still sad but playing” and then another 15 minutes or so later I get a “she’s laughing and having fun.” Relief.
She had a really rough time with separation anxiety when she was younger, but then slowly got a lot better. When her older sister is home from school on Fridays, she doesn’t get as upset.
I told my babysitter that one day I’ll be the one crying because it’ll be the opposite. She’ll be the one leaving to go play with her friends or telling me how she “hates me” just because I told her “No!” again as a teenager.
I want to show my daughters that despite loving them more than anything else in this world, I also enjoy doing other things. I love writing, exercising, hanging out with family and friends and having a date night with daddy sometimes!
I want to teach my children that mommy will always be there for them and I’ll always come home so they’ll be comfortable to spread their wings and find what they enjoy.
I’m still working on this balancing act and know it will be a constant struggle. In the meantime, knowing she’s well cared for and the tears gradually change to laughter while I’m gone helps.

Kids Come First, Marriage Gets the Leftovers?

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It’s been happening for a while now.

I can barely carry on a conversation with my husband by the time he gets home from work.

I feel like my children take every last bit of energy I have.  Around dinner time, I often feel frustrated and like I’ve been through some sort of mental marathon.  I’m tired of negotiating with my strong willed and extremely stubborn 3 year old.  She pushes my buttons and loves every minute of it, in fact, she laughs in my face sometimes when I take away her TV time for the day or her “fuzzy blanket” she loves so much.  I’ve spent a lot of time lately reading up on how to handle her growing desire for independence while trying to discipline her.  I feel like I’m failing miserably.  In fact, I’ve started writing several blog posts about her behavior and am just exhausted reliving the day so I never finish.  She’s very sweet and affectionate one minute and doesn’t listen and is just plain mean the next. Another mom told me, “oh, you have a threenager” Genius! that’s what it feels like, this little girl with that nasty, hormonal attitude. A scary preview of 10 years from now. Although I’d like to give up on finding a solution some days, I am still struggling to find a balance.  I don’t want everyday to begin with a fight.  So, I’ve been experimenting with nap time, bed time, time-outs, ignoring vs screaming in frustration.   I go to bed praying for patience and wake up vowing to start the day with a clean slate.  Be happy, reward the good behavior, ignore or punish the bad behavior.  Let’s be honest, it’s easier said than done some days, isn’t it?

My one year old is sweet as pie right now… except if she’s teething or sick… which has been the case now off and on for months, courtesy of all those lovely preschool germs from her sister! Everyone told me to expect it, but between the colds, coughs, pink eye and issues with antibiotics, I’m all set! Then when “mama needs to work” forget it, she gives the babysitter a dirty look and cries.

I love writing personally and professionally but when I’ve spent my days at the pediatrician’s office, it falls on the back burner.  Not only out of necessity, after all they are my babies and they need their mama, but by the time I have one second alone, all I want to do is zone out with a glass of wine and either some garbage TV or a good book.  Therein lies the problem.  I’m married and love my husband very much (although he probably wouldn’t remember the last time I acted like it.) Another reason why he’s so great?  I inundate him with the daily B.S. going on at home if it’s a particularily rough day (ok, even if it’s not). I’m the play by play wife, good or bad, he gets the nagging texts and the cute pics of the girls. He’s the guy who has no problem doing the dishes or the laundry if need be, and never complains about it. (I know, so what am I complaining about?!)
The other night we broke out the WII sports. We haven’t played in a LONG time. My husband and I used to have bowling tournaments. We’re both extremely competitive so it’s something fun and silly to do. We had fun. We stayed up too late and laughed, like we used to. And, then Addison woke up sick. Such is the life of a parent. I just want to know how couples with kids make it work. PLEASE share your secrets. How do you make sure you get some quality time with your husband? I’m not talking everyday here, I’m trying to be realistic. We’ve made a real effort with date night here and there, but do we just need to have our babysitter on standby for those particularly rough days? Or, is it just like this until our little ones aren’t so little anymore and we long for the days they want to spend this much time with us?!

Plan B

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I’m sure I’m not the only mom out there who wakes up with a plan.

On most weekdays for us that means I get the girls up, feed them breakfast, brush teeth, get them dressed and Daddy brings Brianna to school.  What happens next varies depending on the day.  Sometimes I play with Addison or take her to a class, sometimes I have piles of laundry to do, sometimes I have to work.

Today, I threw plan A out the window and I’m so grateful.

My babysitter was supposed to come over so I could work this morning.  But, because of the freezing rain and sheet of ice outside, Brianna didn’t have school.  I had both of my daughters home with me unexpectedly.  I had a choice; freak out over my impending deadlines and tell the babysitter to be careful driving, or just throw in the towel, stay home and tell her to do the same!

I’m so glad I chose the latter.

I almost always figure out a way to work around obstacles.  If any of us gets sick or a conference call gets cancelled, I move on to the next pressing issue.  Today, however, I seized the moment.  It’s not something that comes easily for me, a type A mom who works at home as a freelance writer.  I will admit that I am sometimes distracted, looking for ideas or promoting my work.  But, I am working from home because I want to.  I want the chaos. For me, it’s the best of both worlds for me to be able to write and take care of my children.  Even if while I’m trying to finish a thought, I’m hearing, “Moooom, she took my book away from me!” or “She pushed me!”

But, today, I was totally engaged.  I spent the day playing dress up, doing crafts and chasing my girls around with miniature horses while dancing to Christmas music.  I had so much fun and the smiles on their faces tell me they did too.

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I am one of those moms who tries to do it all.  I’m not in competition with anyone but myself.  I want to be there when my daughter says, “I love you Mom, you’re the best!” or when my youngest gives me a big hug and says “Meow” for the first time like she did yesterday.  I also run around like a lunatic trying to keep this place clean and the laundry done, all while writing.  Why? Because I enjoy it all.  I may complain from time to time about being exhausted, but at the end of the day, it’s soo worth it and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

I’m thankful for…

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In honor of Thanksgiving… I’m thankful for…

My daughters… I love them “so much” I tell them obsessively…

My supportive, encouraging, sarcastic husband who knows me and loves me anyway… the good, the bad and the ugly!

Health… I pray everyday for my families’ good health

My parents.  Words can’t express how blessed I feel for being raised by such a loving, supportive, fun mom and dad who created the best memories and traditions that continue today.

My siblings.. it’s simple… you are my best friends…

My entire family including my incredible in-laws, grandparents, cousins, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles… the list goes on and on… I treasure the time we spend together and I love you all dearly

My faith

Wine

Nap time

Date nights with my husband… I always feel like a couple again after an uninterrupted conversation!

Girls nights: there’s something about a night out with your friends and all that laughter that just fills your soul with happiness

Drawstring pants

Ready-made meals since I’m not a fan of cooking

Pandora: “Today’s Country Radio” station

Vermont

Oregon

A good, hot shower

A relaxing massage

Hair Dye: Goodbye grey hair!

Pedicures

Comfy Slippers

“Parenthood” (the TV show)

Precious Moments

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It doesn’t get any better than this.

Addison, now 15 months, seems to understand just about everything that’s going on around her. That includes giving kisses when it’s time for her big sister Brianna to go to school.

goodbyekiss1goodbyekiss4They did this adorable back and forth this morning, teasing each other and laughing. Sisters who love each other… Precious moments that make me one happy, blessed Mama!

 

 

 

Goodnight, Sweet Girls

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It’s so easy to get caught up in the everyday stress.

Getting up, getting the kids their breakfast, playing referee when they’re not sharing, nap time (and will Brianna take one today or just be feisty all afternoon until she collapses) and don’t get me started on dinner time!

My point is, it’s easy to get lost in the little things.

At the end of every day, I thank God for all of my blessings, first and foremost, my husband and my daughters.  At that moment, when I’m so tired and ready to crawl into bed, I check on them, a few times admittedly, before I can finally rest.  That’s when all the little things that drove me nuts don’t matter anymore.  All that matters is they’re safe and healthy and happy.  I blow them kisses and say “Mama loves you.”  It’s just pure, unconditional love.

All the whining and protesting is gone at that point and all I remember are the best parts of the day…

girls pumpkins wordpressUs decorating pumpkins…

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Addison squeezing the gooey seeds and Brianna glueing feathers all over hers.  It brings a smile to my face as I lay in bed thinking about the day. All the “you’re not listening to me’s” and “please stop whining’s” are replaced with gratitude and hope for another amazing day to spend with my kids.

It’s hard for me to admit, but on the rough days I look forward to when Daddy comes home to relieve me for a few minutes or even their bedtime so I can take a breath.  But, am I the only one who feels like when I go to sleep I can’t wait to do it all over again?  All of it, the chaos, the hilarity, the frustration, the silliness, the joy, that is my children.

I wish I could bottle it up and remind myself at those difficult moments, THIS moment is all that matters.  Focus on the positive, forget the negative, live in the moment, laugh at yourself! (I really need to remember the last one!)

I have the most incredible husband to thank for starting this family with.  We did good.  I thank God everyday for this family, my family.

 

Friendships

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“Make new friends, but keep the old…”

I know, now it’s stuck in your head.  It’s a song I learned back when I was a Girl Scout, but the meaning still rings true today.

It’s been more than 15 years since I’ve seen some of my college friends.  All those years, and this past weekend, it felt like I was back in my dorm room, like no time had passed.

I got to see three of my good friends.  They were my suitemates.  All of us in tight quarters, some sharing a room, all of us sharing a kitchen, bathroom and ONE telephone.  I think there were a total of 10 of us.  No cell phones, no computers (at least Freshman year), no car, just each other.  We came from different states, had different taste in music (at least at first) and friends and family we left at home to embark on our own for the very first time.  I just remember being excited and terrified all at once with my newfound freedom.  I’m not exactly shy, but I grew up in a small town, and this was my first real taste of independence.  I wouldn’t have my parents asking me if I went to class, did my homework or ate dinner.  I wouldn’t have to explain where I was if I didn’t show up by curfew.  I was on my own, 4 hours from home.  What would happen if I hated it? If I didn’t make friends? If I wanted to change my major?

But, as alone and nervous as I felt after the last hug and kiss from my parents, I had a group of girls in the exact same boat as I was.  We were strangers, who gradually bonded into sisters.  Some of us shared classes and majors, but it was the time spent in our suite where we fell into fast friendships with each other.  It didn’t matter what kind of clothes we had, or what kind of music we listened to or how we did our hair, we got to know each other, rubbed off on each other, leaned on each other through the good times and bad and honestly never stopped laughing.

Fast forward to this past weekend.  After all this time, we’ve stayed in touch.  Keeping tabs on the big things: marriage, kids and careers and always wondering when we’d get to hang out again.  Attempts were made several times and sometimes fell through, but we always kept trying.  Finally, we did it. WHY did we wait soo long?

We decided to meet in the middle for everyone. I, on a solo road trip for the first time in a long time, since I have two young children.  I hit the road and let my mind wander.  Would it be the same? Have they changed? I hope not! I wondered about all those years, the good and the bad times.  I thought about when we all first met, I thought about all the laughs we had, some of the tears we shared, the weekends away.  I got more and more excited as I got closer to seeing them!  I think it took me a while because I kept thinking something would happen and we wouldn’t be able to meet.

We all arrived within a few minutes of each other, sharing long hugs and smiles, commenting on how long it’s been, saying, “Finally!”

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No awkward silences.  No weird moments.  Nothing off limits.  Immediately comfortable again, like we had just seen each other last week.  The only thing I can attribute that to is the amazing friendship we established way back in college.

There was just a closeness that I felt never left.  A trust, really.  I missed my friends, they missed me.  We were older now, with a hell of a lot more responsibilities and worries, but I still felt like I was in college again with just some really good girlfriends.

So, I usually avoid giving unsolicited advice, but here goes: Make plans with your friends, go see them. Life is too short.  Don’t wait until a better time, or a weekend that you haven’t packed with a million things to do.  Make time for the people in your life who mean so much to you.  You still need each other.

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