Boys will be boys

I don’t usually like stereotypes when it comes to genders. However, sometimes my life feels like it’s what boy stereotypes are written by. We don’t play with a lot of “gentle” toys but each boy has their favorite sleeping stuffed animal. They play brothers all the time and that feels like a version of house. Except it’s always the episode where someone is racing or someone is a monster or bad guy. Close enough. 

I won’t say that they take advantage of me. Instead I’ll say I give them a little more freedom. I’m anxiously awaiting the independence phase so I tend to let them roam free a little more. That gets me in trouble sometimes though. Like last weekend when I told Bryan he was on nap duty once he got home from golfing. I gave strict instructions to be nice to each other and I sat outside in the sun. Bryan came home and asked me why they were coloring the house and each other. I was literally on the other side of the glass door. Those sneaky little boys! Needless to say, they had afternoon showers where Bryan managed to scrub Quinten’s name off his back…{I know! Where’s the picture!}


The next time I was home alone with them I sent them outside to play. It was a nice evening and they didn’t need to be inside. Five minutes later they came inside to put on swimming trunks. Whatever. Stay outside. I plopped in a Body Pump DVD and enjoyed 45 minutes of silence. Until I realized that they weren’t just playing in the rain water from last night. THEY WERE PAINTING THEMSELVES IN MUD. Whatever. Stay outside. I finished my workout and went out again to deal with it. And that’s when I found Quinten without any clothes on. Because that’s what boys do. They constantly take off their clothes. 

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My love of biking

This is the post where I confess my love for biking. And summer. And doing it with friends {or my husband}.

I’m on my third season of biking and am feeling like this is my strongest season yet. I spent a lot of the winter months working out and hoping that my quads were going to come through for me. I won’t act too confident yet because I only have one 20+ mile day. Every other day is about 10 miles. But, most of the 10 mile days have felt great! ūüėČ Here’s a little secret, when you’re gearing up {haha} to ride your bike across the state….well, 10 miles doesn’t mean much of anything. Our lightest day will be¬†49 miles. So…I need some more saddle time it seems!

I am pretty proud of myself for getting a tough ride in before July. It didn’t feel very good the first half, which is a lot of hills. My quads were on fire and I didn’t have the go power that I wanted. When you’re on a really shitty hill, sometimes you have to tell yourself to just keep pedaling. “You can do it. Keep going. Keep pedaling.” And eventually I made it up that ridiculously awful hill. It’s a hill I despise. Being my first time this year, I kind of forgot HOW MUCH I hate that hill. You come from a gravel road, so basically at a dead stop, and then have a ridiculously long climb. As far as the eye can see, it’s still a hill. I’ve been known to screw myself up by looking ahead. It’s so far away that it’s defeating. I made the mistake of doing that today. I was going into an easier gear so I could keep up my speed and I looked up instead of just right in front of me. We were about 25% of the way up the incline and I felt my momentum die. On a steady incline, you don’t want your momentum to die. I had to gear down some more to keep it up and that was when I had to talk myself into pedaling and keeping my eyes on my tire instead of ahead of me. It’s a lot to deal with while trying to get up a difficult hill, physically forcing your eyes not to look up, moving your legs at a steady pace, and breathing. I think there’s a lot of character building that happens on a hill like that. I don’t give up easily. In that moment when the end isn’t in sight, I can see how easy it would be to give up. I made it up that stupid hill. It didn’t feel pretty, but I made it. And I loved it to its fullest on the way back¬†when I was racing down it at 29 mph!

Part of the reason I’ve felt so strong this year is because of some reoccurring pains last year. I had problems with my neck and shoulder area hurting really bad. It was never on the same side and I couldn’t figure out how to position myself to not have it happen. I worked to build up my back and shoulders over the winter and am feeling pretty good so far. Between biking and softball, my quads get a lot of use during the summer. Last year I was constantly pulling them, which made both activities awful and at times really difficult. I spent all summer putting on Biofreeze but was still suffering. This year, I’m using Biofreeze as a preventative for softball but haven’t pulled them during either activity. However, after a double-header last Wednesday, they were still sore on Friday’s ride!

One of my favorite parts about biking is that I get to spend a lot of time with my friends. And sometimes my husband. Now, as a runner he sprints. That pretty much translates to biking also. So he rides a little faster than me and I don’t have any breath to actually talk to him. But I enjoyed his music this afternoon!

I’m not a morning person, but there’s something indescribable about 5 am on the bike trail with friends. A fresh start to a new day. It’s a mix of cool and humid. We pull into the parking lot and mutter hello as all of us wake up. Most mornings someone is struggling with bike gear because we left our houses during the 4 am hour. We get on those bikes and our brains and bodies start to wake up. Some mornings we talk about meaningless things. But most mornings we talk about real things. Things that are too much for text messages. Because being a mom means you send¬†most of your adult conversations via text. Summers on the bike trail feel like our place to reconnect. Life is just as busy, but we make the time for us. We use the “excuse” that we need to train, but I think all of us do it just as much for the social togetherness. And maybe the bikers “high.”

Learning from my children

People always say having kids teaches you a lot about yourself and gives you a different perspective on life. I recently read an article about how mom’s shouldn’t be afraid to talk about kids in the workplace. How they should add parenting to their resumes. That makes sense to me. I am a big believer that having kids has taught me how to handle unpleasant situations and at times even handle employee situations better than I would have six years ago. I look at a tantrum at home and laugh to myself because my 5-year-old is facing the worst situation of his day, while I just dealt with some real stuff at work. While my brain doesn’t want to listen to a tantrum at home after a long day, it puts things into perspective. I see how important it is for me to help him learn how to deal with his problems. I see people throw tantrums in the workplace. Like, a tantrum that rivals my small child but includes lots of swearing while my child only screamed and stomped his feet. Most of the time this happens with someone who doesn’t have children. They only have themselves to take care of. They don’t see the bigger picture in life. They still get to be selfish and act like a small child who isn’t getting what they want.

My kids aren’t just showing me commonalities between the workplace and home, they are also teaching me about myself. It’s not easy for me to open myself up and show my weaknesses. Somewhere along my lifetime I got the mindset that I need to handle whatever is thrown my way. I don’t need to ask for help, I just need to get it done. I don’t feel like I’m stubborn. I don’t know that it makes a difference why I’m stubborn. But I don’t realize I do it. I’ve taken on a lot of stress in my work life and the outsider perspective is that it’s because of my stubbornness. I can kind of see it, but I still struggle with it. How is doing my job because it’s what is asked of me being stubborn? Shouldn’t that just make me a good worker? Is it because I sacrifice myself to do the job? Meaning, I’ll take the world on my shoulders and not burden anyone else.

Trying to discipline my 3-year-old has taught me a lot about myself. And it’s not all things that I wanted to learn. I have a short fuse when it comes to not listening. I’m trying to figure out how to deal with that because I spend a good portion of my day asking why no one in this house will listen to me. Seriously? Why can’t anyone do what I say?! Example…the other night I watched the boys walk towards the stairs and Quinten had a glass full of water. I knew what was about to happen. I yelled from across the kitchen, “DO NOT DUMP THAT GLASS OF WATER DOWN THE STAIRS!” At this point, I can’t remember if he even looked at me. It doesn’t matter. He looks at me all the time and does exactly what I told him not to do. He dumped a glass of water down the stairs. Who does that?! Obviously the next thing he did was go down the stairs like a slip ‘n slide. OBVIOUSLY. He was at the bottom of the stairs by the time I made it across the kitchen. {Ask Amanda, she was just as stunned. Welcome to my life.} Then I had to make the choice of putting him in timeout and cleaning up the mess myself or sacrificing an entire roll of paper towels so they could clean it up themselves. I picked the roll of paper towels and went back to my glass of wine. {That’s probably when I gave myself a refill.}

Twenty minutes later Maximus came running into the kitchen yelling about the huge mess that was in the bathroom. A sink full of toilet paper, water on full force, bubbles everywhere, and water all over the place. Why can’t I enjoy a couple of glasses of wine with my friend?!  After I cleaned that mess up and put them to bed, she asked how I wasn’t drinking bottles of wine every night. I don’t know. I really don’t know. More girl nights will help me survive these two!

It is so frustrating to discipline a child who gets worked up even more when you get mad. I don’t know how to not get mad that he’s not listening to me and be calm when I tell him he’s not acting very nice. This is when I realize that we are a lot alike. Both of us extremely angry and both wanting to be the alpha. So I take the wins as they come, sometimes it’s winning a day and other times it’s one disagreement out of many. 

Finding me again

There’s been a lot of talk on¬†social media¬†about¬†finding your tribe. I absolutely love it!

I went on a girls trip a couple months ago and felt that girl tribe bond. I joked that I couldn’t wait for the trip because I was going to unadult. To adult: to work a desk job, care for a family, take care of a house, and be involved and/or lead multiple community projects. I didn’t realize how much I needed a break from all my jobs! I was ready to do whatever Kyley wanted and not worry about taking care of anyone else. {Because on a girls trip you all watch out for each other, but you don’t have to care for anyone else.} It was the best! I found myself again. Me. Not the employee, mommy, wife, or volunteer. Just ME.

Whatever all this tribe talk is, I’ve realized that taking care of me isn’t about 5 am workouts, clean eating, or setting aside time to read and write. That’s taking care of my physical and mental health. While that’s important, I tricked myself into thinking I was focusing on myself. I hear so many parents of young kids talk about how hard it is to be an individual anymore. I get it. I get it hard. But working on your health is different than working on your soul. All this tribe talk has made me realize I need to work on my soul.

Spring is a rejuvenating time for me. I come out from winter hiding and am ready for sun, fun, and friends. I’m looking at this season with a different perspective this year. I’m going to focus on me and cultivate my relationships. Girls nights, trips, family nights with friends, and anything else that fills my bucket {preschool reference: bucket fillers make your heart happy}.

I miss Kyley. The girl who got me to this point in my life. The individual without all the titles. The one who built friendships, a career, and a family. Somewhere along the past six years I got caught up in the workload and keeping babies alive part. I lost sight of keeping the friendships alive and doing things that make me who I am. I thought one night a week sports and random celebrations where filling my individual needs.

Since having kids, I’ve slowly learned to lean on people. With one kid, I¬†thought I had to figure it out¬†on my own. Then came a kid who challenges me in ways I didn’t even know possible. I checked my humility at the door and found¬†an even deeper relationship with my friends because of it. I don’t think I’m any more special than the next person but I have a very hard time asking for help. {Some people in my house would say the ornery blonde got his stubbornness from me. He might be right.} I’m learning that it doesn’t make me weak to ask for advice or even whine a little about my life. My friends are having¬†the same daily struggles. It’s not a bad thing to reach out from the darkness and ask someone to pull you out.

All this tribe talk is making me love and appreciate my friends even more. It’s reminding me to make them a priority and connect with them more often. To make sure they are doing ok or just tell them how much they mean to me. And to spend a little more time focusing on me, even if that means skipping out on a night at home to just be Kyley out with friends.

Find your tribe

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! ūüôā

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.

Independent activities for children are hard on mama hearts

Sitting in a loud, echoey pool watching a little in swimming lessons is a mix of relaxation and anxiety. Two very opposite emotions. 

I have one child who is timid and nervous if he can’t touch the bottom. {I kinda don’t blame him.} And another who appears to have little fear. I’m constantly in awe of the different personalities these two possess. 

Teacher swimming lessons feels like a level up in parenting. Trusting someone to care for your child while they are in water that goes over their head. It’s different than the leap I felt leaving them at preschool in the care of strangers surrounded by strange children. At preschool you know they are safe and constantly busy. At swimming, I feel a strong need to be the one to watch my child at all times. No one else is watching him the entire class. 

Seeing 15 young kids in the pool while their faces barely stay above water and they are constantly told to swim across a giant pool. All the anxiety. They make it look so hard. All the huffing and puffing and holding of breath. My anxiety is on full alert during swimming. 

  
At the same time, my kid spends 75% of the time sitting on steps or holding on to the side of the pool waiting for the next instruction. So it’s kind of relaxing. To sit there and just be in the quiet. Well, unless I have a smaller child to tame. Then it’s the opposite of relaxing because I have to make sure TWO kids don’t drown. 

The relaxation is my reward for the busy that comes next. Swimming that overlaps the start of soccer skills class. Oh, that was an exciting four weeks of busy Saturday mornings! I’m still patting myself on the back for picking overlapping activities instead of swimming at 8:30 am on a Saturday. I’m not built for that

It amazes me that a child can be SO excited for something like soccer and then show up and not do anything. Because he doesn’t want to run. Or because he’s too busy talking to his friends. 

Children activities are such a big dose of humble pie. Things that are second nature to a grown person are not close to being coordinated things for children. I know age 5 is too young to determine what a child is “good” at but it also makes me fast forward and wonder what activities he’ll focus on in the future. And when I’ll know what activities to drop. I don’t want to overextend ourselves and especially not him, but I also want him to have the opportunities to try many things and enjoy what he wants. 

Parenting is such a strange mix of emotions, especially when your children start doing independent activities. I know I’m just hitting the surface of independance, but I’m a mom of a 5- and 3-year-old, so I’m new to these emotions! 

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???