The Eve of Another Year

To all the wonderful, passionate, and loving people who put themselves in positions to teach, protect, and love our children…well, summer has been extra good this year. 

Like, maybe my sweaty boys stayed up too late riding bikes and fighting crime on the culdasac and we were lucky to get one shower a week. But we spent a lot of time at the pool and that’s about the same, I think. This summer we got rid of one set of training wheels and are on our way to another set. We mastered swimming without a floatie for one and putting our head under to swim for two. It looked like it was a lot of fun and games, but we were learning and growing. 

Maybe bedtimes pushed back later and later because no one can sleep when the sun is still up. Plus, there was all that crime to fight, stars to look at, and the occasional plot to sneak out at midnight to have sleepovers. I swear, no escape plans ever worked. Those kids slept like the dead, once they gave up on asking 7 million questions and getting out of bed 102 times. Every night. 

I promise that we’ll be on time {ish} now that summer is over. And I’m sorry to the summer crew who watched us walk in every day at 8:12 {probably actually 8:16}, but thank you for saving their favorites even though breakfast was over at 8:15. I’m confident that we’ll get our act together. By Christmas. But also, thank you for keeping it to yourselves on the days that it was obvious I hadn’t showered yet either. I promise that will only be a summer thing. 

My most sincere apologies for their clothing. We haven’t mastered the perfect stain fighter solution and boys are messy. I think 50% of the time they are wearing clean clothes, unless it’s the same outfit from yesterday. Not that it has happened more than twice a week for a certain four-year-old. It’s really hard to tell what clothes are clean or dirty since none of them make it to drawers or laundry baskets. I have tried to instill the idea that they at least change their underwear every couple days. 50% success rate might be a little lofty…A regular shower schedule should bring those odds up to 100%. Well, except for a particular four-year-old taking a head dive in the shower requiring five stitches. {A little too dramatic for a bedtime stall or shower boycott…} 

We might need to work on general hygiene as we work back up to 14 teeth brushing events per week. Don’t judge. Something has to give when it’s 9:30pm and PLEASE.JUST.GO.TO.BED or it’s 8:00am and FOR.THE.LOVE! no we don’t have time to do anything besides walk directly to the car! 

Don’t worry, I bought a $10 planner from Target to get me into the scheduling spirit again. I promise to stay current and advance the months in a timely fashion. I’m looking at you April and May. Boy did I boycott any form of organization in June. Just remember, I’m always a social media post or text away. 

There aren’t any fancy chalkboards or homemade anything, we’re winging the first day of 1st grade and we’ll wing 4-year-old preschool next week. We try to focus more on the moments than the stuff. {But-also I’m 0% crafty.} I can’t promise they’ll look put together, but I can promise they are both worth every bit of love and teaching you give them. Both in their own special way. They’ll bend and grow with you as everyone adjusts to sitting still and remembering how to use listening ears and raising hands before yelling out words. {I am very much looking forward to you getting them back into respectful human status!} 

To all those protecting and teaching our youth, good luck and thank you. And to all the parents, good luck with the shock of another school year. To the special ones teaching my boys, if you let them in they’ll love you forever! And when they love you, they give the best hugs. 

Advertisements
The Eve of Another Year

The Groundhog Day Phase of Life isn’t Easy

I’ve been here before, in this groundhog day feeling of life. Somehow I’m still surprised by how smooth and easy life can be and then suddenly you’re smacked in the face with life. Like, when did it all get so hard? When did days start bleeding together and when did my to-do list get unmanageable? When did my friends lives get so busy that we barely have time to chat and seeing each other is basically out of the question.

I thrive in social situations. I don’t do alone very well. I miss my friends and I miss my sense of togetherness. Life is getting consumed with work, taking care of a family and home, activities for children, and activities for adults. I’m exhausted by the end of the days and I don’t get rejuvenated during the one-hour of “free time” at the end of each day. I’m constantly forced to choose to spend that time on chores, something for myself, spending time with my husband, or attempting to catch up on sleep. No one warns you about the daily life. Or the constant groundhogs day.

No one warns you about all the tough moments life will throw at you, but no one really warns you about the awesomeness that comes with children. When my four-year-old goes through a phase where he gives air kisses and I know it’s his compromise of not having time to give me a kiss but he knows it makes me happy. Or when, even though he weighs 40something pounds, he asks to be carried into daycare every day and pets me as we walk. {Yes, I think these are strategic to get me to still love him through his orneriness.} My heart melts when my six-year-old goes to the back of the car to unbuckle his brother when unknown forces make a four-year-old suddenly not able to get out of a car seat. Or when Maximus tells me he saw Quinten during the day and gave him a hug. We have a lot of hard in our every day lives, but these little glimpses of sweetness help me wake up and do it all again the next day.

I know long summer days will help me feel refreshed and happy again. Afternoons spent at the pool relaxing and watching the boys play will calm my soul. And sitting in my favorite place on the deck in the slowness of weekend mornings will put me back in my happy place. It won’t slow life down or make us any less busy, but maybe a little more sunshine and warm weather and a lot of baseball and softball will right my world.

I was raised on summers at the ball field and it runs deep in my veins. It won’t solve everything or make anything easier, but I hope it will help me feel grounded again. That it will bring me a sense of peace and calm in this crazy busy time of life. Because at the end of the day, I know how to do the ball field. Playing and watching fills my happiness bucket. Even if sometimes I have the added stress of children who steal my Gatorade and throwing it at a tree until they can get it stuck.

No one warned me that I’d keep having the same day again and again, but they also didn’t tell me that it would make me a stronger person. I may not see the growth today or tomorrow, but I can feel it when I look back. When I pull myself outside of today, I can see how the repetition is propelling me forward. But, I’m still looking around for that easy today!

The Groundhog Day Phase of Life isn’t Easy

A day in the life of a default parent

default parent | noun : the person who children come to for everything

A while ago I read a post on default parenting. It was like someone smacked me upside the head. Why didn’t I put that together before?! The default parent is the one who the children come to. Even if it means walking right past another parent on the way to seek out the default parent. Even when the default parent is in the shower and can’t realistically help find something or help put something on. Children see no obstacles when it comes to finding the default parent to ensure all of their wants and needs are met. Immediately.

Labeling the default parent helped me understand why most days I fall into bed physically and emotionally exhausted. In our house, we share a lot of responsibilities when it comes to parenting. Or we try. Three times in one week, Quinten came into our bedroom at 1 am. He doesn’t say much, but he makes a lot of noise on his way in. He usually throws open the door and loudly makes his way up on my side of the bed. He takes over my pillow and falls asleep in 10 seconds. Each time, I wake Bryan up to carry our very solid preschooler back to his bed. {That’s what a default parent calls delegating.}

Being the default parent translates into being the default housekeeper, food maker, food shopper, and school schedule keeper. No wonder I want to faceplant into my bed most days at 6pm. It’s mentally exhausting to keep so many balls in the air all the time. Children don’t care how much sleep the default parent got. They don’t care if you have a headache or the flu, they have needs to be met on their timeline. To all you default parents, word. 

Nights out are extra special for a default parent. When you get together with other default parents, everyone is responsible and no one needs parented. It’s simply amazing!

  1. You don’t get interrupted
  2. You willingly go with others to the bathroom because it means there’s something to be talked about in private
  3. Getting someone a drink isn’t a chore
  4. No words are off limits!
  5. We naturally take care of each other without noticing

This fall, we took a girls trip to Kansas City. We were basically gone for two days, but I still spent Friday doing all the things so my family was taken care of while I was gone. It’s exhausting being the default parent, even when you’re gone!

Here’s a glimpse into the going-out-of-town-default-parent life.

Responsibilities, Yo.
Wash, dry, and fold. BAM!
Here’s your meal plan family: chili and pizza.
Beer for lunch! Because it’s already a long day.
Always have a friend who knows the life of a default parent.

 

A day in the life of a default parent

Taking an unexpected leap

I never planned out my future, it just kind of happened. But as I progressed my career and began managing a department, I saw the future unfold. It wasn’t one I expected, but I was happy with it and began creating my next career goals.

Ten years later, I’m doing something I never expected. I’m leaving it. I’m leaving the best boss I’ve had and the greatest team who is doing such amazing things. I’m leaving a ton of open goals for myself and the department. But for what? To help my community. An amazing opportunity presented itself and I’m sure it was God’s will.

I always read about how people are given these opportunities and they don’t want to but God keeps putting it in front of them. Honestly, I was envious of that. I was sure I’d never be one of those people. At the same time, I questioned if my random thoughts of not working were it. Was I supposed to push myself and leave my career and stay home? Yet, when I thought about doing that I never thought I’d be good at it. I’m not good when I’m left with no real goals. I’m not good at boy activities. It just didn’t feel right. So I kept doing what I was doing. One foot in front of the other.

Now, I really get it. Change is so scary and leaving what I expected to be forever is terrifying. From the unknown future to letting everyone down as I leave. It’s hard. But in my heart I know this is what I’m supposed to do right now. I’m being pulled in this direction and now I understand how people try to push it aside but they just can’t. I truly believe that my professional and personal experiences have led me to this point. I have experienced them so I can do this. It may only be temporary or it may lead to another path I didn’t expect to go down. Either way, I’m making this leap with a lot of faith that I am doing God’s work.

I’m going to miss all my work friends, my co-workers, my team, and my boss. It’s hard to imagine that I won’t be with them every day. As I form new relationships and become more integrated with the community, I’m adjusting to my new norm. I’m excited about the newness, the project, and challenges ahead of me. And, I know that all of my experiences have put me in this position. I am supposed to be walking down this new path. As scary as that may be and as sad as it makes me, it’s what I need to do. To put my skills to use in the way that God wants me to do.

I needed this test of faith. It’s been hard for us the past few years. We’ve had definite challenges and in a sense we’ve gone into survival mode. We’ve had parenting struggles, we haven’t put our marriage first, or even ourselves. I carry the stress of my job around with me. Always wanting more and feeling too much. I “handle” it because that’s what I think I need to do. Bryan has always questioned if I’m really happy and I always tell him that I am. I just assumed this was part of life and juggling so many things. I always pull up my boot straps and deal with it. No free passes.

I know this change is going to be big for our family. It comes with its own set of challenges and I might be gone nights or weekends sometimes, but that comes with flexibility. Flexibility to be there at other times of the day when I normally wouldn’t. Pool days, breakfast dates before school or daycare, or picking them up from school and daycare to go on adventures before its time to make supper. This is huge as I get ready to send one off to kindergarten and look to preschool soon.

One of the “perks” of this new position is the requirement to be involved. My desire to help more and be involved more is part of what I get paid to do. When Maximus starts school, I can be involved for my desire to help cultivate a great learning environment for him but also as a way to better do my job.

It’s scary to not be in control or know how life is going to unfold. It’s terrifying to put an end to the constant and the safe. It’s gut wrenching to feel like you let people down. But, it’s enriching, soul warming, and pretty amazing to see the possibilities of what you can do in this leap of faith move. Not just for myself, or my community, but also for the company I’m leaving. The company that I am so fiercely loyal to. The company that I owe this opportunity to. I hope I can make such an impact that all the community-related discussions we’ve had are now taken care of. So they can focus on their jobs and move into the next chapter of success.

God truly is amazing, even when you don’t think you’re doing a good job honoring him. When you think you’re being selfish and living a life all about you and your surroundings. He still loves you and He still walks you down your chosen path. Be open to His ways and be willing to take that leap no matter how scary it is. Because He will take care of you.

Taking an unexpected leap

The terrible threes…or the way of life?

I’m writing this from just above the trenches. Or that’s what it feels like. We were in the trenches of non-listening for so long that it feels like a freaking vacation right now. Sitting on my couch, with a dog next to me, sunshine coming through the windows, loud hammering in the basement, music that is barely audible downstairs, the slider open, and voices traveling in the house. {Note: this paragraph was written a few weeks ago. It’s gloomy outside and was pretty crappy inside for most of the morning. We turned a corner though and everyone is playing with planes. Shhh….don’t make any sudden movements.}

“Maximus, I’m going to use this digger.”

He’s always talking. Except for when he first wakes up or when he crawls in bed during the middle of the night with a blanket and whatever stuffed animals he can grab on his way out of his room. Not a single word, just grunting as he climbs up on my bed and snuggles right into me on to me and my pillow. Otherwise, he says all the words. Last night he carried on a conversation with me about how the dog smelled like poop and was going to poop on him while they sat on the couch. Five minutes before that, he told me how much he liked Wrigley and wanted to sit next to him. I can’t keep up with the nonsense that he talks about! 🙂

We seemed to have turned a corner in disciplining or understanding or stubbornness. Whatever it is, I’m not even afraid to talk about it. Because, for all I know it’s just a tease and I might need some reassurance that peace actually happened.

We hear Quinten ask for toys before taking them from Maximus. And we hear Maximus give them before telling or hitting. It feels like a miracle happened around here. THEY CAN PLAY WITH EACH OTHER NOW….sometimes.

Here’s a blip into what it’s like to live with Quinten. Rapid-fire nonstop talking without waiting for me to say anything. And then he simply walked away to see if he could check someone else’s ear.

mommy, these are my monies.
mommy, these are all my quarter monies.
mommy, these are all my treasures.
mommy, look at all my money treasures. 
these are all my treasures. 
all my treasures.
mommy, can I check your ears?
{As he climbs up on the couch next to me} mommy, can I have some space?
mommy, when I check your ears I give you some of my quarters.
yup, no yucky things? 
mommy, here are your monies.
mommy, i’m the doctor today.

He’s the most lovable thing in our house but has the stubbornness and willpower of all of us combined. He’s hot one day and cold the next. In all his three-year-old glory, I have to remind myself that most of his actions are fueled by his age. The rest, his personality. Some we can control and the other we have to try to contain. It’s a balance that leaves us exhausted and worn down most days.

I’m not wishing away the years, but I might not be so quick to deny that I’m not wishing away this phase. It’s hard. Like really hard. Teaching a really stubborn, not always gentle, child to be a good person is work. I’m not naive, I know raising this free-spirited child isn’t going to be easy but I’m hoping I’m a little better prepared or able to handle him as he gets older. Something about trying to engrain values and good person characteristics is making it really hard to teach and discipline. Most days it feels like he doesn’t get it at all and he’s just in trouble for being mean to his brother. I’m not the only one who considers just letting them duke it out, right?? My dad has some pretty crazy stories, but everyone survived.

The terrible threes…or the way of life?

Surviving the last 24 hours of solo parenting

Do you believe in karma? I suppose I do because I have been known to say it a time or two. In early January, I was traveling for work and Bryan ended up only working one day out of an entire week. I can’t remember who got sick first, but at one point they were both home. We had a pretty complicated schedule that Friday as he was leaving town before I was getting back. It would have normally been no big deal – school and daycare. Except they were both home so a grandpa came in to cover for us.

Fast forward a couple of months.

I’m ending a two-week solo gig. Our first week was SUPER.BUSY. We were only home two nights out of six. By the end of the week everyone was worn down and tired. That made for some fun mornings. As we entered week two, our schedule looked good. We were going to be home every night and I had my lunch hours planned to get all my errands done. {Because no one wants to run errands after work with two kids in tow.}

Then Tuesday happened.

One whining child was so tired he couldn’t get his pajamas off to go to the bathroom. {Hashtag: the struggle is real.} The other complaining of his tummy and leg hurting. Off to the kitchen he went to eat his cereal. Pro tip: if your slowest eater is dressed, take advantage and try to get that food in him quicker. Also, he eats about three breakfasts a day but loses his mind if he has to skip the one at home. Back to “help” a 5-year-old figure out how to get off the hallway floor when he’s soooooo.tired. Crying from the kitchen. Sprint through the house because I’m thinking the worst just happened and it was probably throw-up. Nope. Hurt leg really hurts and cereal looks untouched. I pick him up and don’t like the sounds in this throat. Luckily, I have years of experience at this stuff. No thinking required, just action. I stand with my back to the sink as I’m holding him against my chest. Arch my back so his face is over the sink. Or at least I hope it is because I can’t see back there. Shush him as he throws up over my shoulder and calmly talk to Maximus as he buttons his pants and tells Quinten it’s ok. {Yay! He’s able to get dressed again!} When I’m sure he’s done, I look to see that he didn’t have anything in his stomach so it was just a lot of saliva. However, dress goes into the laundry and yoga pants and t-shirt on.

So karma does come back around. The throw up was an isolated incident and in came a small fever. Little did I know, there would be no work and daycare on Wednesday. Maximus woke up around 11:30 that night and was pretty hot. He stayed up until almost 2:30! I eventually let him come into my bed. Quinten stormed into my room around 2:15 terrified of a loud sound and pretty hot as well. It was most definitely a monster or a siren or a mouse or a loud boom or a beeping sound in his room or thunder. He’s just sure of it. I did what any solo parent does at 2am – got everyone’s pillows and blankets and favorite stuff animal and turned on random bathroom and closet lights so everyone could see. And told them to stop talking and use quiet voices and JUST PLEASE GO TO SLEEP. Then I slept on the smallest sliver of my bed, crowded out by Quinten and Wrigley.

Luckily, I had shared a bottle of wine with a friend that evening so whatever I can deal. Because otherwise a person would go crazy after that kind of night. {Yes, I bought the same wine today when we were at the store. Because, yes.}

Wednesday got us two kids staying home! Slight fevers and emotional messes because no one got enough sleep due to our middle-of-the-night party. I was bored out of my mind and tired of watching Curious George, but we survived. And at the end of the day, I drove all around town getting them fast food because it was that kind of day. I high-fived myself when I got them both to sleep in their own beds even though it was raining, windy, and thundering.

AND THEN 2 AM HIT AGAIN!

I sat up in bed as I watched them both come into my room talking away. “Mommy, I’m thirsty. Mommy, I want to sleep in your bed because I’m scared. Mommy, my tummy hurts so I want to sleep in here.” AHHHH! Fifteen minutes later I had all the necessities again and we were settled in. Somehow they slept until close to 8:30, but ruined my early morning workout plans again.

It’s 30 outside, windy, and gloomy. We’re fever-free, it’s spring break, and we’re bored. I took them to Dunkin Donuts for breakfast and the grocery store so I could get a Starbucks. {Let’s talk about how I calmly waited out a stubborn 3-year-old who wanted to push his own little cart. GET IN THE OBNOXIOUS FIRE TRUCK. PLEASE AND THANK YOU! I won.} I made them a super awesome lunch of pigs in a blanket and promptly put them all in the fridge because no.one.ate.them.

One more day until Bryan comes home…and a bottle of wine that’s calling my name. When can I open it???

Surviving the last 24 hours of solo parenting

My battle with migraines

“The cabin doors are closing, lets update our Facebook status one last time and send that text and tweet so we can get going.” – I do love a social savvy flight attendant! Something about humor that connects with my soul before signing off for the flight.  

As I left my house in the bitter cold early one Saturday morning, I couldn’t help but reflect on the past week. Heck, the past month. It’s been hard. Like, physically hard. I’ve had only a few instances like this in my life. Breaking my foot, getting E.Coli after a work trip, and the worst ever recovery from the stomach flu that left me not eating for a month. I’ve battled migraines since my teens. I began to worry that I was changing my status from random migraines to chronic suffering.

After my second 2-day migraine in under a week and 8th total in a month, I got myself in to see a doctor. She deemed me the proud owner of a sinus infection and put me on antibiotics for 14 days. I really liked her. She wanted to attack whatever was wrecking havoc in my face first and at the same time work on my sinuses and get the migraines taken care of. After learning that I should be able to pop my own ears, she decided I had some things not working to relieve the pressures of my sinuses. At that point, a guess of why I get migraines is like winning the lottery, even if it ends up being wrong. With some exercises to do and specific nasal spray to use, she sent me on my way with instructions that I should taste the spray when I use it. It’s not the most ideal and honestly, I try not to taste it when I take it. I’ve been taking it for a year straight because I thought it was helping my migraines but in no way have I been taking it so well that I’ve been tasting it. So 1/2 a point for me for taking the right thing, just really poor execution. That’s what I get for trying to self-fix. But if any of you suffer from migraines, you know how difficult it is to control or diagnosis. So you do what you can to continue on with a semi-normal life.

I was in an absolutely awful form of hell. No joke. Worse than when I was on bed rest for 6 weeks with a broken foot. But maybe not worse than The Stomach Pains of 2015. Those where pretty excruciating and left me not able to find the right fetal position to make them stop. I was like a caged animal. But the past month has left me unable to function 8 to 9 times. Some days I had to push through some activity or work to get to a place where I could crawl into bed with a heating pad and cold meds. I learned with the first one in December that cold & flu meds plus a heating pad had me almost good in just a couple of hours. That trick soon stopped working {much like any other self-medication I’ve found for migraines over the years, it always stops working eventually} and I was trying a combination of sinus related cocktails. Decongestants, cold & flu, nasal spray, allergy meds, and ibuprofen, water, and lattes for the caffeine. Sometimes {ok, every migraine day} going through all of them. On the other days I was popping cold & flu and decongestants to dull the headache. The strange thing is that I never had cold symptoms. I guess my sinuses are just cool like that.

As I was sitting on the plane last weekend, my ears basically popped for the first 40 minutes. I was incredibly grateful they were popping. I was kind of concerned, but never have a problem with my ears popping on a plane so I figured I’d be fine. I had a number of people concerned the plane would make it worse. I figured I had already experienced some really shitty days, so I’d just be dealing with it in a public place. Nothing I hadn’t done before. Hopefully the forced pressure changes helped me in the long run.

The physical hardships I’ve gone through have been enough to shake me up. I pick myself back up pretty quickly, I always do, but it’s been pretty hard mentally as well. When I get random migraines I experience a lot of mommy and wife guilt. Nine times out of ten, I get myself through the work day and pick up a kid. I get home and because it’s a little bit quieter {for short bursts of time}, my brain has space to realize how much my head hurts. And I give in. Rarely do I retreat to my dark bedroom, even though almost always do I want to. I usually set up on the couch, sometimes even closing my eyes for a bit and falling asleep for a few minutes at a time. Migraines don’t work around my schedule, they show up unannounced and always unwanted. I feel less guilt when my husband has plans for the evening. I crash on the couch until he leaves and then make it through to bedtime. Sometimes the boys watch way too many cartoons and other times I haul myself into the bathroom so they can take a bath before extended cartoons. It’s a crappy feeling to sit on the couch while chaos ensues around you and you do nothing.

Only a mommy guilt brain can make you feel worse when your spouse is home with you. I should feel better that he’s home and can pick up the slack while I try to take care of me. Instead, I feel worse that he HAS to pick up the slack and feel like everything he does is full of disdain and annoyance towards me. Every timeout he has to initiate, every meal he has to put together, every dish he puts away and counter he cleans, and the bedtime routine that all of a sudden becomes a solo act. Nevermind that most nights he handles the kitchen cleanup. Something about having a migraine makes me feel guilty for him doing something he does most nights.

I hate that my kids have spent countless breathes asking me if my head hurts. Or that after returning from a week-long trip, Quinten tells me after my head stops hurting we’ll do something. I’m at the end of my 14-day meds and it’s been a number of days since my last headache, but the last thing he remembers is me spending an entire evening and not going to work because I was in so much pain. I wish my kids didn’t know a life of chronic pain.

For all of you who suffer from some form of chronic pain, mental or physical, try to give yourself a break. Don’t put added pressure on yourself. It really is ok to just take care of you and make you better. Do what I say, not what I do! But I can tell you that sometimes when you have a migraine on a work trip and you’re stuck on Bourbon Street, you can take enough ibuprofen that it will eventually go away while you go from bar to bar with live music. You’ll eventually walk out onto the street and realize it’s gone! Making you feel like you’ve unlocked a special level in the world of migraines.

My battle with migraines