Sunday, February 28, 2010

Has Spring, Sprung? & February in Review

I can not believe that today is the end of February!  It flew by...but I am looking forward to March and SPRING...ahhh!  Perhaps some warmer weather will arrive?  I am seriously tired of the snow!

Has Spring Sprung?  This photo was taken today in my front yard.  It is a magnolia bush, which is right outside my oldest son's bedroom window.  This morning he excitedly took my hand and led me back to his room and pointed to the buds on the bush.  He said gleefully, "Mommy, look!  That means spring is almost here!" 

Can you believe it?  Here in Cleveland, we just had a major snow storm...but nonetheless, here it is:  A sign of spring!

Feruary in Review:  Looking back on the last 28 days, I have noticed a few poignant nuggets that are important pieces of my rediscovery journey.
  1. When I wrote the last part of How Did I Get Here? it became clear that I need to honor ME - who I am separate from being a wife and a mom.
  2. I need to let go of self-created definitions of what it means to be a "good mom" and who I think I am.  These definitions are destructive, guilt-ridden, unfair, and limiting.  It is time to rewrite my dictionary.
  3. A shift in how I think about what I think, can seriously change my mood, feelings, and reactions.  My thoughts - are merely thoughts.  Not truths.
  4. And, wonderful words of advice (thanks DK!) I received after posting Heinous Balls of Goodness, I am going to work to try to Embrace Imperfection.
Not too shabby for the shortest month of the year!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Heinous Balls of Goodness

As is the tradition, OB needed to take a treat to preschool to share with his friends for his 4th birthday (which was yesterday). Earlier this week, I bought all the ingredients for a family favorite, Rice Krispie Treats (I know, a whole whooping 3 ingredients – I really out did myself). Although, I did not have an actual design in mind, I also decided to pick up sprinkles, frosting, melting chocolate, and cake writing icing. I figured that plain old Rice Krispie Treats (RKTs) just would not do (that might place me in the boring-mom hall of fame) and that somehow with this arsenal of decorating products, we could create a colorful, festive, happy birthday-ish snack for OB and 11 of his closest friends. On Wednesday, while chatting with my sister I mentioned the RKTs and she suggested using cookie cutters. I thought it was a brilliant idea and I could clearly envision fun-shaped RKTs that all the kids (and teachers) would be sure to love. So was the plan...

Thursday morning arrives and we have until 12:30pm to get the RKTs made, decorated and transportable. OB was very excited to help and he places the butter in the pan and is thrilled to see it melt. Then he pours in the marshmallow and, again, melting occurs and he is in awe. Fortunately for me, while adding the rice krispies, he did not ask why the marshmallows on the bottom of the pan were a pale shade of burnt (thankfully easily hidden by the cereal).  After mixing up the marshmallow mess, I laid out some wax paper and spread the crispy goop. I pulled down the cookie cutters and OB and AB (who couldn’t stand to be left out of this cooking party) each picked out a shape. OB’s choo choo train cookie cutter was the first to impale the slab of RKTs. As I lifted the cookie cutter, I quickly realized that, while a simple shape (a circle, or heart) would have worked perfectly well, RKTs are not the best medium for such intricate silhouettes. Furthermore, the stickiness of the RKTs was, well, sticking, to the cookie cutter and the wax paper. Things were not going well and the RKTs were quickly cooling and quickly becoming unmoldable. I needed to think fast. Time for Operation Save the RKTs ...

STEP 1   Be strategic – scrap the cookie cutters. I quickly and gently broke the news to the boys. “The cookie cutters aren’t working very well! I have a better idea!” (translation: 1. the cookie cutters are a big fat messy failure and  2. I don’t know what the hell we are going to do, but anything is better than this.)

STEP 2   Think simply – balls…the boys can make balls out of play dough, so they can make balls out of RKTs.

STEP 3   Add fun – Sprinkles. Seriously, what could be more fun than sprinkles?

STEP 4   Assign tasks – “AB you take the RKTs and roll out balls” “OB, you roll the RKT balls in the bowl of sprinkles.”    editor's note:  all hands were washed before preforming above mentioned tasks.

Not necessarily the award winning treats that I had in mind, but, Oh Well!  We are now in rescue and recovery mode!  So the assembly line began and thankfully, there was not a quality controller in our midst. The balls were – well, NOT round and often pitted with craters. And the sprinkles were – well, EVERYWHERE and luckily that did include on the balls. The boys were having fun and things were looking up. Precisely the time to dive further into my decorating arsenal.  I pulled out the cake writing icing, and melting chocolate. Since the RKTs were already looked pathetic, I decided we would just have FUN. I dipped them in chocolate and OB drizzled various colors of icing on top. OB had a BALL!!!!(pun intended). 

He proudly took his Heinous Balls of Goodness to school.  From all reports, except for one friend Sally (name was changed to protect the innocent), who only had one bite, all enjoyed his birthday treat.  OB's HAPPY birthday – mission accomplished!
Note to self:  Remember, often the fun of life is the PROCESS, not the product.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

4 years old today!

Four years ago, today (at 3:30pm EST) my youngest son, OB was born. 
Today, I am over-the-top thankful for him!

(This picture was taken just before we left the hospital a few days after he was born.)

(This picture was taken last week.)

 It's amazing what 4 years creates!

Happy Birthday to my little O!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Pesky Potty Problems

I wrote this a few months back, before I started blogging.  After recently re-reading it, I realized that this experience really forced me to question my mothering skills and think about what kind of mom I want to be. 

Potty training is my nemesis! As an “older” first-time mom I had high hopes in life experiences being a huge benefit in mom department. And, for the most part I was able to adjust and figure out this “mommy-thing”. I got through my first son’s birth and infancy, without getting too scathed. I also managed to have a second son born just 14 months after my first and I figured out how to manage two non-talking, non-walking, beings without any major injuries or traumas. I even showered most days, and occasionally left the house. I thought I was doing pretty good – perhaps even being successful. This is until time had come for potty training.

I had visions of two boys happily sitting on their potties, learning together, and, in a short time I would neatly cross that task off my list. So I geared up. I read voraciously. I found out that there were many different strategies, including boot-camps and potty parties that promised to potty train in one day, others who suggested having “naked noons” and “wiener weekends” to train more slowly, and still others who believed that infants, as early as 3 months old could be trained. Many people had advice…cheerios (for target practice) in the toilet, or to train in the summer time to allow them to run around naked and learn. So, I chose my strategy and advice and got ready for a weekend of potties, sticker charts, rewards and much hoopla! I had grand hopes and figured this was just another mothering hurdle that I could tackle and find success.

The weekend started and my husband and I were ready! We had some successes and of course many accidents. By the end of the first day, it became apparent that our youngest son was not ready and my dream of dueling potty goers faded. But still I was excited to see successes in my older son. Day two began and our older son was eager to fill up his sticker chart and get the fun rewards. He was learning and even though accidents were still a plenty, overall we seemed to he headed down the right path. But then Monday came along, my husband went off to work, and life had to go on. It could no longer be ALL about potties and rewards. Furthermore, we all had cabin fever so loaded down with extra clothes, rewards, and a portable potty, we headed out. Perhaps it was too soon to add life’s distractions. Perhaps, I was too tired of asking “do you have to go potty?”. Perhaps he was just having an off day. Who knows what the issue was, but in our short one hour excursion out in the real world, we took three sprints into the Target bathroom, only to sit on the potty without any success. And, of course, the trip ended with an accident just as we were exiting the bathroom.

Since then we have been on the potty training roller coaster. There were moments, days, and even weeks of wonderful successes. My hopes would rise only to plummet when we suffered days, and weeks with multiple accidents. Six months later and we still had not figured out the whole process. However, during this time he was attending preschool and was a successful potty goer there. In fact when talking to the teachers, they were shocked to hear that he was having accidents at home. Visits to grandparents were accident free and I was beginning to notice that the evenings and weekends, when my husband was home, he was mostly dry. So I figured it MUST be ME.

Now, it would be important to digress here and mention that I, the youngest of four children, was NOT an early potty professional. In fact, if the story is true, I was well over 4 years old before I used the potty regularly. And, since I remember my brothers and sister chase me around the house, calling me “stinkbomb” while shooting rubberbands at my diaper, I have got to believe that the story is at least partially true. So, you know what they say about “pay backs”, and I began to accept that I was (and still am) in the process of getting “paid”.

So, after determining that I must be the cause of my older son’s repetitive accidents, I tried different tactics: more stickers, then no stickers, M&M and marshmallow rewards, changing my reactions: enthusiasm, anger, and finally indifference. I even contacted a potty training guru for her words of wisdom. And, after all that, guess what…the roller coaster continued. And, to my dismay, our younger son was seemingly ready to be potty trained, and with dread and trepidation, we began his training. Without much direction, I watched our younger child succeed and quickly become a successful potty goer.

After experiencing him, basically train himself, I realized some things that I wish I would have known at the start. 1) Potty training was not about me! 2) It was also not a reflection of whether or not I am a good mom. 3) It is about him, and he is in control. So, he continues to slug through the potty training. It is still a roller coaster but, it seems the highs and lows are less extreme. I am learning that this is just one of many times I am not control. It is his life, his choices, and his life lessons. In the future, I hope to remember that I am there to help, encourage, teach, and even, at times, just be silent as he figures out the person that he wants to become. I’m hopeful that today he will chose to become perpetually dry!

author's note:  since I wrote this, his potty success has increased, but he is not yet a potty professional...I am still hopeful! 

I know I am not alone in this...What are your potty training woes?

Monday, February 22, 2010

A full bed.

While on vacation, AB and OB slept with 1) Horse, 2) Froggy, 3) Hippo, 4) Croc, 5) Pablo the Polar Bear, and 6) Bunny every night! 
(They are such creative namers, aren't they?  Oh, and by the way, Pablo I named before AB was born.)

And poor Hippo often became a pillow. 
(Hippo was a bit smooshed by morning.)

Who sleeps with whom in you home?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Shift My Thoughts = A Shift in Me.

On the way down to Florida, a week ago, my husband, JT and I listened to a book on tape by David Allen called Ready for Anything. His book, although directed toward folks in the world of business, really resonated with me. I found myself jotting down poignant ideas and concepts that I might want to further explore. I don’t remember what in the book sparked this thought, but I jotted down the following concept: “Many of my best decisions were made without thinking, just doing, and going with what I know is right.” I remember repeating it out loud to JT, and saying “I know that is important, but I don’t know why.” I set the note aside and didn’t think of it again until today.

As I write this, I am on the way home from Florida and we just got done listening to another audiobook, Making Your Thoughts Work for You, with Dr. Wayne W. Dyer and Byron Katie. I grabbed this book at the library before I left for this trip, because the title sounded interesting – no other reason, I knew nothing about it. While I didn’t like the “love-fest” of appreciation the two speakers had for each other, I really enjoyed listening and was intrigued by what they taught. Certainly, I can not explain their concepts, as I am sure that I did not grasp them completely (or even a 1/100th). But what I did get was this:
  • Our thoughts are not always true. For example, with a newborn, I thought I NEEDED more sleep but I came to realize that wasn’t true – I may have liked more sleep, but didn’t NEED more.
  • Yet our thoughts, whether true or not, greatly impact our behavior, reactions, opinions, judgments and how we feel about people and situations. When I thought I NEEDED more sleep, I felt angry, resentful, and like an inept mom – but when I changed my thoughts and realized that I didn’t NEED more sleep, I was more relaxed, happier, content and peaceful with the situation.
So Dr. Dyer and Bryon Katie challenge listeners to question their thoughts and get to what is TRUE and then act and be, based on the truth.

While listening, I found myself coming back to my previous thought… “Many of my best decisions were made without thinking, just doing, and going with what I know is right.” It felt like this – that I had identified just a week prior – was, at least on some level, right on target.

One situation that I was speaking of was during the birth of my first child. After a long labor, including 4 hours of pushing and the cord wrapped twice around our baby’s neck, our son, AB was born. His Apgar scores were low, he was grayish blue, and handed directly to the respiratory team of umpteen billion nurses and doctors (ok, there were probably only 4 people, it just felt like a whole bushel of medical professionals). He was breathing and I could hear his tiny whimper – but he was quickly rushed to the Special Care Nursery (our hospital did not have a NICU) for observation and placed in an isolette.

After being reassured by the nurses and doctors that he was doing well, considering the situation, I began to relax and wave of calm came over me. I didn’t think – other than to consciously decide that I would NOT allow the “what ifs” and “why me-s” any consideration. My gut told me he was fine. As I told JT, “I just feel like everything is going to be fine, and I am going with that feeling.” While every other mother on the floor had her newborn in her room, I walked down the hall to the special care nursery to nurse and visit my son. I wasn’t sad, worried, or angry. Any time a thought would form that started with “what if” or “why me”, I dismissed it. I was only interested in dealing with what I knew to be true. This was my wonderful experience and I was simply living in the moment. Fortunately, as my gut told me, my son was fine.

But during that time of unknown, my thoughts could have easily taken over and made the experience horrific and traumatic. Instead, I have our beautiful memory of the birth of my first child.  It was not wrapped in a beautiful perfect present with a pretty bow – it was OUR story and for us, it was perfect.  Little did I know how important this experience would be for me, just 14 months later, after our second child was born.

Do you remember a time that you ignored or dismissed your negative thoughts and just experienced the moment?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Being Anything...

How does this happen? I remember when I knew I could be anything I wanted to be!  And, for me, an education seemed to be the key. “Go to school, get and education and you can become anything you want!” I took that to heart. Although not the straight A student – I graduated college with decent grades. At the age of 23, just after receiving my BA, I remember feeling this amazing feeling that I was ready to tackle to world. It felt like the possibilities were endless. I could choose my career path – and there were so many choices. I could move and live anywhere I wanted. I had no ties, no commitments and no responsibilities to anyone but me.

So I began to make decisions – I knew that I valued education, but had determined that teaching K-12 was not my calling – so I looked at higher education and decided to pursue a master’s degree. Off to Chicago and graduate school I went. Some of my fondest memories were when I lived in Chicago studying for school, working an internship (which paid for school and housing) and conquering the city. It was such a monumental time for me – I was independent (mostly), pursing my education, and being successful.

After graduating with a masters degree I began the job search and found my first “professional” job at a University. I moved to a tiny town in Wisconsin and “began” my life. Two years later, I moved yet again to the Cleveland, Ohio area for a new job, at a small liberal arts college, where I had more responsibilities and more money. My career was going great! For the next 7 years, each time I was feeling the itch to grow more in my career, I was able to find new opportunities at the same college and my position changed and grew with me. Also during this time, my personal life had turned a corner and I met my husband and got married. Now I was beginning to grow roots and find a sense of “home” that I didn’t previously have. The roots grew deeper as we had our children and subsequently became a stay at home mom.

I got my education, had my career, found my home, and loved my life that I made. But, recently, while searching for what is next for me I found that the sense of “I can be anything” has been replaced by what “I am”. I am a wife and a SAHM, who previously worked on a college campus. So while thinking of other careers, jobs, or things (for lack of a better word) I might like to do, I hear a little voice inside my head say “but, that’s not you”. For example, like many bloggers, I think I might like to write – but the little voice says “You didn’t major in English”, “You didn’t take writing or journalism classes.” “Those people are the writers and authors, not you.” Since I am interested in stuff outside of what my degrees are in, my education seem to of pigeon holed me into an identity that no longer fits. Recently, I began to ask myself, “How is it that my pursuit of being ‘anything I want to be’ has become the barrier to my new anything?” Without any good answer that supports that belief I have begun to tear down the wall and to see the possibilities again. My studies, as I previously surmised, are not my destination, instead they one part of my life’s path to various anythings

Friday, February 19, 2010

Child-like excitment!

Do you remember when you were so excited that that you couldn't contain it?...your smile took over your face, giggles escaped, you jumped and wiggled with uncontrolable enthusiasm and time stood still.  The moment was too precious to think of any thing else.

Meeting Mickey, Minnie, and Pluto at Disney's Magic Kingdom yesterday, was one of those moments for my boys. 

But it made me think...when was the last time I felt that way?  I'm not sure I can remember (I'm going to have to think about it). 

When was the last time you were that giddy?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

B Thankful!

Today, while on vacation, I am thankful for...

Beach time

and my Boys!

What are you thankful for today?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Maybe I'm not a Good Mom?!

And, here's the proof:
  • "Good moms" don’t choose to ignore their children…and there are times that I do just that. I lay in the bathtub, reading my book, hearing my boys scream, cry, and argue. "Good moms" (if taking a bath at all) would promptly exit from the tub and happily deal with the situation. Sometimes, I don’t. Sometimes I even shut the door so not to easily hear the chaos.
  • "Good moms" don’t get resentful of the time the children take away from them. I do. Can’t they see I am having “me” time. I know it looks like I am just surfing the web or chatting on facebook. But really it is quality me time…isn’t it? OK…I know it is me just searching, but never REALLY finding anything that rejuvenates and reenergizes me. But, technically since it is me sneaking time to do SOMETHING other than caring for my kids, isn’t that “me” time? So please, do not ask for apple juice, snacks, or a video right now. Can’t you see I am busy? See, I am not a "good mom"…"Good moms" would not feel that way about their children.
  • "Good moms" don’t snap and yell at their children. Not when they are tired, or on the phone with the electric company, or when they are trying to have an adult conversation with one of their few remaining friends. "Good moms" talk nicely to their children and never yell or “snap” at them.
  • An on top of all of this, "Good moms" do not feel guilty for what they should be doing, what they didn’t do, or what they could have done. Because of course "good moms" have nothing to be ashamed of or feel guilty about.
It was a bad day…my almost-4-year-old was following his usual pattern. Getting out the door had become a battle. And by time all three of us were in the car, my anger and frustration was boiling over. I was tired of this happening, so I wondered, “is it possible to get out the door with my two boys AND be happy?” When I polled friends, and even a few strangers, their response was “nope, not possible!” I was not willing to accept that as the truth. Instead I began to look at the barriers of that happiness. I came up with some small changes that I could make and began attempting to make them. But, have you ever had one of those moments when seemingly simple things have a roadblock in front of them? Well, that’s what began to happen – and had I been in a better frame of mind – I know that I would have been able to overcome the roadblocks and trudge through to make my changes. But, not that day. Nope, I was spent. My anger, although I tried to contain it (because "good moms" respond appropriately when angy) overflowed and I behaved badly. I yelled at my children, banished the barking dog to the backyard, and snapped at my husband. It was not pretty and I knew, by the end of the day, that my husband (at this point extremely angry) would want to talk. He, rightly so, wanted to air his grievances. Oh, I was not in a good place to have that conversation. So instead I ranted and verbal vomited all over him. I shared the details of my day and expressed that clearly my poor mothering skills had caused the day’s chaos. I confessed my sins (as listed above)….

And then I said it…”Maybe I am not a good mom”. And you know what? A huge weight was lifted from my shoulders. I felt free. A shit-eating grin appeared on my face and I couldn’t stop it. I wasn’t sure why I was reacting this way, but it felt good! My poor husband did not know what was going on, he was still angry about my bad behavior (who could blame him). Thankfully he allowed me some breathing room during which I realized I had previously formulated an unfair definition of a “good mom”. It was a much needed ah-ha moment! I had set myself up for guilt, shame, and failure.  My definition of a "good mom" did not allow much room for me.

I know that I need to change my definition and put together a new, more flexible idea of what it means to be a good mom, but for now I am embracing the thought that “maybe I am not a good mom.” That, maybe, I can raise good kids, do my best, and still do things that may not be “good”.

Ahhhhh…So freeing!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Simple Pleasures, found

Yesterday, I boo-hooed about lost simple pleasures. So, I thought it would be advantageous to consider the simple pleasures that I have gained since becoming a mom.

I love:
  • Hearing my boys laugh
  • JT even more since he became a dad
  • Their little hands in mine
  • Reading children’s books
  • Hearing, “I love you Mommy”
  • Listening to them play together
  • Their smiles
  • Playing with their toys
  • Seeing the world through their eyes
  • The funny things they say and do
  • When they are so excited that they express it through all parts of their being
  • Decorating their rooms
  • Watching them sleep peacefully
  • Teaching life skills
  • Doing “fun activities” with them
  • Their innocence
  • That they are friends
  • Being a family
  • And SO much more!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Simple Pleasures, lost

I didn’t appreciate how many simple things that I did before children and loved, I had lost. And, even more surprising, how much I missed them and, for some, didn’t even realize. For example: I miss having an interruption-free conversation, movies, lounging in the bathtub without hearing my boys scream, cry, or fight, reading Oprah Magazine cover to cover, having days with no plans or responsibilities, sleeping until 12noon (hell, I’d be happy with 8:00am), hosting parties… (I could go on, and on, and on...)

I have begun to reclaim a few of those things. Recently, in a conversation fight with my husband, JT, my eyes welled, my voice cracked and I began to sob as I declared “I want to watch more movies.” What the hell??? Hum…clearly something is up… As my mother, a retired counselor once said to me “the emotions displayed do not correlate with the statement being made.” Certainly the tears were not just about movies. But, nonetheless, I want to watch more movies! JT could live happily for the rest of his life without seeing another movie and therefore, we rarely did. Lately, I have made movies a priority and I have thoroughly enjoyed it! It’s amazing how a two hour escape into someone else’s story can rejuvenate me – and JT actually enjoys it too. I am finding that adding this simple pleasure back into my life has positively impacted my outlook. Who knows, perhaps soon we will go out to a movie, or even subscribe to Netflix!

A girl can dare to dream!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

One Week, Three Snow Storms

Living in Cleveland, Ohio we are used to snow storms and winter weather. Early this week, although not as crazy as in DC and other areas east, we experienced two snow storms. But, for us, there was light at the end of the tunnel...we were heading toward Florida at the end of the week. So we took the snow storms in stride, looking forward to sun, warmth, and no snow!

So much for that! Yesterday on our drive - you guessed it - we found ourselves stuck in the fourth largest snow storm in recorded history in Columbia, South Carolina (8.6 inches of snow). Who would of thought. One week, three snow storms.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Potty Mouth!

I remember when having a “potty mouth” meant, dropping the f-bomb, cursing to my hearts content, and finding interesting ways of sliding “shit”, “asswipe”, and “bastard” into almost any conversation. And, just for the record, I had a very creative, spectacular potty mouth.   I worked with college students – how couldn’t I?

Now, my potty mouth is actually about the toilet and bodily functions… “did you go poop or pee?” “I’ll be in to help you wipe” “OB go back and flush the toilet” and my personal favorite, “AB, are those WET pants I see?” And, ironically, now when I want to curse, my word of choice is “STINKS!”

Ahh, how times have changed.

Today, I am thankful for morning snuggles...

and giggles.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

When insecurities rear their ugly heads

Last night I found myself caught up in one of my insecurities. Ugh, I hate that! It is such a defeating, lonesome feeling and often, when I am in the midst of it, I have a hard time putting it into perspective. It happened at the parenting class I am taking. I was sitting next to a fellow mom who, if grades were being given, she – without a doubt, would get an A+. She has dove head first into the philosophy and implemented it successfully. The fantastic stories that she relates to the class are right on target and her children have responded positively. Throughout the last night’s class, while listening to her tales, I found myself having two very different thoughts and feelings. Part of me thought “Oh, come on, Lady! It can’t ALL be that rosy and wonderful! All that ‘perfection’ you’re oozing is a farce! Please, GET REAL!” And another part of me jealously, silently screamed “Whaaaaaa, I want THAT to be me!”

I sat through the two hour class, feeling ill at ease. All of this internal dissidence led me to question myself, second guess many of my parenting skills (much of which, is successful and healthy), and feel, well, insecure. Fortunately, (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it), I have had lots of practice with my insecurities, so after a bit of space during the drive home, I was able to put it in perspective. I reminded myself, not to compare and in the words of Stuart Smalley, I thought, “I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and, doggonit, people like me!”  And, I felt a bit better.  Am I cured of these insecurities? – absolutely NOT! I know they will rear their ugly heads again, just hopefully not at next week’s class.

Monday, February 8, 2010

In just six words?!!!

A friend of mine posted this link to NPR on her facebook page (thanks DK). It is a conversation with Larry Smith and Rachel Fershleiser, editors of Smith Magazine, who gathered six-word memoirs from the famous and not-so famous, in their book It All Changed in an Instant. I found it intriguing and thought about how to sum up my life in six words. Here are a few I came up with…

Finding my place between the extremes.
Some days are better than others.
Sense of humor lost in motherhood.
My boys, my husband, now me!
Must remember to enjoy the now!
A bubble bath a day helps.
Relish hearing their laughter and play.
          and, of course
In search of me in Mommy.

How would you sum up your life in six words?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Tower Tackled...what was I thinking?

I'm not sure what I was thinking.  But in the theme of health and wellness, I decided to participate in Tackle the Tower yesterday.  Tackle the Tower, which benefits the Ronald McDonald House, is a race up the Tower at Erieview in downtown Cleveland, Ohio.  And, just to clarify, it is up 37 flights of stairs, not in dueling elevators.

11:37.10AM was my start time.  There I was at the bottom of 646 steps and I was going to climb them all!  Why?  I wasn't quite sure.  Ugh - it was go-time.  Pathetically, around the 3rd flight of stairs, my legs were already burning and feeling like rubber.  Many people had already passed me and I still had 34 flights to go!  GRRR...  I willed my legs to continue.  At the 10th floor, a kind volunteer, handed me a bottle of water.  In between my gasps for breath, I think I managed to say "thank you".  Flights 10-20 are a bit of a blur.  At the 20th floor, I did a little happy dance - in my brain (couldn't expend any energy with a "real" dance) - I was over half way done!  Again, a blur until floor 30.  I would love to say that I sprinted the remaining 7 flights - but that would be a big fat lie.  Somewhere in the last 7 flights, I brilliantly thought that using my hands in a sort-of chimpanzee move, might be a good idea.  That proved to not be accurate, because not only did I look ridiculous, but I got an unfortunate head-rush that was not pleasant.  BUT, I did finish - and finishing was my goal.  11 minutes, 53.7 seconds of...agony, persistence, and a bit of pride.  Certainly not a record setting pace - the top female finished in 4:56.9 (I believe her name was Speedy). But, nonetheless, I feel good about doing it.  Will I do it again...? 

"Reply hazy, ask again later."

Friday, February 5, 2010

Happiness is...

...playing in a Friday night snow storm!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Today I am thankful for the love my children have for preschool!
...And, even more thankful for the moments of me time!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

How Did I Get Here? (part 3)

Part 1 and Part 2
Clearly something happened between the joy of treasuring my babies and my frustration of raising preschoolers. I am sure that some it has to do with the challenges of being a parent and, more specifically, a SAHM. As much as I didn’t want to admit it – or perhaps believe – being a mom is incredibly hard and draining. It is life changing! Having good parenting and coping skills is essential. And, I sincerely believe that I was equip with both – yet there I was struggling and not feeling happy. So after reviewing, tweaking, and making changes to how I respond to and raise my boys (an lifelong, evolving process), I was feeling better about my parenting…but still there was this gnawing feeling of…well, blah! Perhaps this is not just about the boys and my parenting – perhaps my blah is about me. What happened? While reflecting upon the times since I first became a mom to the current, I gained better understanding of what happened to me.

My husband, JT, is a serial entrepreneur and has always been interested in pursuing new and innovative projects. Some projects are directly related to his work, while others are not. He is not a spontaneous, nor does he make rash, ill-informed decisions – and about three years ago, he set out to make changes in his life with the goal of pursuing his dreams. During this period I was just beginning to find that I had some time – sleep deprivation had (mostly) subsided, and the boys were starting to do things independently (walk, talk, eat without much assistance, play together…). I wanted to be supportive and assist him pursuing his dreams. And ultimately, this was for the good of the family, so it seemed like a natural thing to do. I did research, made phone calls, put together information packets, file, attended meetings, etc. My new-found time was filled. Now and then I would get sincerely excited about these dreams and would try them on as my own. But, my excitement would wane, and the fit just never felt right. Instead of being true to myself…I was lost in his dreams.

Perhaps even more confusing, I was lost within my role as a mom. Odd…isn’t that what my dream has always been – to be a mom? Huh? And yes, that is entirely true. I have always wanted to be a mom – BUT, being a mom is not all I am. I was not honoring ME and who I am – all those wonderful (and not-so wonderful) parts of me that are outside of mommy-hood and wife-dom.

Today I am still committed to being a great mom and wife, but now I am also committed to being an amazing me! So, there it is – that is how I got here – In Search of Me in Mommy.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Mom Anger

I have already confessed that one reason that brought me to this point is that I don’t like that I was becoming that mom – the screaming, yelling mom. So in one effort to figure out a different way of dealing with my children, I decided to take a parenting class. The class is every Monday night for 6 weeks and is based on principles from the Love and Logic Institute. According to “Love and Logic provides simple and easy to use techniques to help parents have more fun and less stress while raising responsible kids of all ages.” Last night I attended the second class and we discussed anger. Some thoughts about anger included:
  • “Nobody can make you angry unless you allow them to.”
  • “The person with the anger is the one with the problem.”
  • “The person without the anger is the one in control.”
Hum…I truly believe in the premise of each of these statements, but I’m not sure in real life I practice or make the best use of these concepts. If I could get a dollar for every time I said screamed at my child “you are making me mad!” - I would be oh, so rich! But, in reality, I am allowing myself to get angry, and then my anger becomes the focus. And why wouldn’t it, since I’m sure I look ridiculous with steam coming out my ears and my face ablaze. To top it off, not only is the focus off of the real issue (their bad behavior), but then they have the control. Argh – I do this, really?  I suppose this is one of those wonderful “ah-ha moments”.
It’s given me a lot to think about and be aware of. Hopefully I’ll be able to incorporate some of the “simple and easy to use techniques” in to my response repertoire so the next time I feel the simmer within, the steam never even make it to my ears.

Monday, February 1, 2010

My Vision Board

"Your imagination is your preview of life's coming attractions."
- Albert Einstein
Recently I have been doing a lot of reading and one theory that has popped up repeatedly is The Law of Attraction. According to Tristan Loo, “The law of attraction states that we attract into our lives anything that we give attention to, regardless whether it be positive or negative.” In simple terms, what you think about is what you get. For example, if I want to pay off my credit card bills, but all I am thinking and complaining about is the debt, then I attract more debt. Conversely, if I am thinking about paying down the bills and saving money, then I attract more savings and financial freedom. I’m not sure what I think about the entire concept, but, I find it intriguing.

One exercise related to The Law of Attraction is a Vision Board. In simple terms, a vision board is a place to post pictures, drawings and other visual cues of your goals, dreams, and aspirations. It is to be placed somewhere you spend a lot of time so you see it and, hopefully reflect upon it, often. The theory suggests that this will assist in achieving the goals, dreams, and aspirations. So, I decided to do my first vision board and it proved to be I a great exercise in self-discovery.

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