Friday, December 16, 2011

what gets left behind

So this morning I am wrapping gifts.  That's why I am now blogging, because I was immediately overwhelmed just getting out the wrap, bags, ribbon, etc.

I thought to myself, how did I do all of this when my girls were home all day, every day?  I didn't do all the gifts - for the girls many of their gifts I did a scavenger hunt and left them unwrapped, figuring the game would be the fun part of getting the gift.  Really, it was I was so exhausted from the gifts and cards to everyone else, I had nothing left.  No time left, either.  And my girls - the ones who Christmas was most exciting for - were the ones who only had a few wrapped gifts, and the rest they had to search for.

Working moms or moms home with little ones should have at least one day during the Christmas season where they have nothing else on their plate  - or children at their ankles - besides Christmas preparations.  More than one day would be preferable, but really, who's even going to get the one.

I read on fb today that one mom is cutting Christmas cards, and a suggestion from one of her friends was to do New Years or Valentines instead.  Brilliant!  Wish I had thought of that a few years ago!

But this year, I have time to do cards, and to wrap - and do so joyfully.  I have been the one in our marriage to buy every gift, sign every card, wrap every present from the mailman to my in-laws.  I actually love being the one to do it - but admittedly, when the girls were little it was just so tough!  And it's hard when you do something just-good-enough-to-pass when your real self, not the tired, stressed one, wants to say, wrap it  beautifully with gorgeous ribbon instead of throw it in a bag.

So I will get back to my wrapping now, with a smile because I don't have a child underfoot asking me if it's okay that she pooped in her dollbaby's pretend diaper.  I may step on a few Cheerios left on the floor from breakfast, because my kids do still live here after all, and my house is a royal dump.  I am thinking of you today Moms - you working moms trying to cram it all in on the weekend, or you SAHMs trying to stay awake long enough past 8pm to write out a few Christmas cards.

Leave some stuff behind - think about what's really important that needs done.  I wish I could go back, and wrap all of my kids gifts...although I guess they don't remember and it doesn't matter.  But it does to me...the message in my mind of the mom I was at that time was I was choosing pleasing others before pleasing my daughters.  I was putting others expectations of me before making their Christmas as magical as I could.

So this year, I think I'm going to wrap their gifts first.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

choices, choices.

I remember vividly, being pregnant and stuck in an elevator with a few fellow social workers.  They had just heard that I was not going to be returning to work, and they were laughing and saying that within a few months I'd be back.  They already had children, and they were saying oh girl, you will WANT to work!  You will be broke, or your kid will be driving you nuts...

That was my first real indication that a lot of people have A LOT of opinions about what other people should do.  Bottle or breast.  Crib or family bed.  Cry it out or coddle.  Spanking or time-outs.  Stay home or work.  Public school, private or home school.  TV or a "non-tv home."  Plugged in kids or kids that don't know how to work a computer.  All of these things I just mentioned all have arguments, all good ones.  But sometimes, it drives me crazy.

I feel like sometimes, moms just want to feel validated for the choices they've made, by making them the "best choice" in their minds.  Myself included!  But some choices I made weren't really my choice, it just kind of happened.  Whether it was out of influence of my friends or families choices, or just out of survival (no I didn't let my babies cry it out!  I would have gone loony!) - I feel kind of...guilty...when I hear about other moms choices and how it's working out so well for them.  I had my babies at 24 yrs old and 26 yrs old...because that's when God chose to give them to me.  It just happened (yes I know how...and now I also know that some forms of birth control are of the "you can run buy you can't hide" variety).  Sometimes I am so thankful that I am on the younger side of parenthood, and sometimes I really wish we had taken time to save money before having kids.  I breastfed both kids, but with Bailey we gave one bottle a day that had salt in it bc of her CF, and she started to refuse to nurse at 4 months old and pumping was for the BIRDS (read: I threw my breastpump against the wall in a fit of frustration and hormones and broke it), so she ended up being bottlefed.  I felt so guilty I must have cried myself to sleep for a week, and yet she didn't get her first cold until she was 2 years old (it helped I went absolutely no where with her).  Taylor nursed until she was 9 or 10 months (she and I decided to stop when she started thinking it was an awesome game to bite me so hard I got an infection so bad even the dr said "ew.")  And even though she nursed longer, she had her first cold at 2 weeks old.

What's my point anyway?  Moms need to give each other A LOT of slack.  It is an accomplishment to just feed, clothe and cuddle your children each day!!!  An accomplishment!  But we put so many more expectations than that on each other - and mostly on ourselves - that we end up feeling defeated before we're even out of bed in the morning (ugh another cereal day and I know so-and-so always makes her kids a hot breakfast).  We are all made differently, with different gifts and resources.  I don't homeschool because you'd end up seeing me on the evening news.  "Local mom screams at children while trying to teach them long division...children found cowering in the on anti-depressants because she doesn't even know long division."

That's a true story.

So at Christmas, maybe the thought of making a ton of Christmas cookies has you wishing for your private island.  So don't do it!!  Trust me, the kids would rather have a happy mom than a stressed out one.  Do what I did when my kids were younger (read above - we validate the choices we made and now they're the best ones, remember?!) and buy store made cookies, tint readymade frosting green and red (ooh sounds like a homeschool lesson!) and let them have a plastic knife and decorate them.  Take the frosting and knife away as soon as you feel your blood pressure rising and shove cookies in their mouths.  Or scrap the whole cookie thing together and put Santa hats on their heads and go for a drive and look at lights.  Return home as soon as you start swinging your arm wildly in the backseat to smack one of their legs because they're fighting over whether the house with the blow-up Santa on a motorcycle or the house with the 10 Rudolphs was prettier.

In closing, be kind to yourself and your fellow mamas.  We're all just trying to make it through the day.  You don't see daddies having a pissing contest over whether their baby was bottlefed or nursed.  In fact, if I paid Kevin a million dollars I know he couldn't tell me how old either of my kids were when they weaned.  And then he'd ask what "weaned" meant.  Yeah, take a hint from the daddies, because they've got their act together for sure.

A bit of sarcasm on that last sentence.  But in this instance, yup, they have one on us.  They're not feeling guilty when they read on Facebook that one of their friends just made Christmas cookies to deliver to nursing homes, churches and the homeless...they're just wondering if there's any left.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A conversation between a mama and her baby girl

Tucking Tate in the other night, I told her how thankful I am to spend time with her everyday.  I said, "you know Sissy, some mommies work in the morning or night time, and don't get to see their babies as much.  So I'm so blessed that Daddy works hard so Mommy can be with you and Bailey, in the mornings, after school and all weekend."

Tate - "I know what Daddy does for his job."

Me - "Oh yeah?  What does Daddy do?"

T - "He looks for money all over the ground.  Then he picks it up and brings it back."

M - "Um...not exactly.  Daddy visits people and asks them to put pictures of their business on the computer and if they say yes, he gets money."

T - "I want to be a vet, a singer and an artist."

M - "You can be all of those things!  You can be a vet to make money, you could sing with your church on the weekend and you can draw whenever you want."

T - "I know what you can do to make money, Mommy."

M - "What do you think I should do."

T - "You can take a flashlight and look for coupons everywhere.  Coupons are money." (Girlfriend might have heard me say that a time or two!)

M - "That's a good idea Sissy, because then I could still be here when you and Bailey need me."

T - "Yeah, like I need you right now to stop talking to me and start singing my lullies and scratch me on my back and my arms."

Good thing she doesn't expect too much out of me.  I never want to miss out on moments like this.

Monday, December 12, 2011

a follow-up

Good morning!  Ok, so I wanted to write a P.S. to my prior blog post about the living nativity.  I received a comment that left me wanting to elaborate.

First, I am so thankful that so many people have had a wonderful experience visiting the living nativity.  The fact that a church has the funds in this weak economy - and the volunteer man power - to pull off offering a free community outreach as large as the living nativity, is amazing.  How many families, perhaps because it was free, or because they offered hot chocolate and refreshments, went ahead and spent the evening there with their families and heard about what Christmas is REALLY about?  How many people perhaps now will visit that church again, and hear more about Jesus as Savior?  

Second, my post was NOT about the nativity, it was about the WAIT.  That is really important!  It was a joke.  Kevin would never make a joke about anything concerning his relationship with Jesus, it is sacred to him.  Every morning that he does not leave before the children wake, we pray as a family together about our day ahead, and Bailey reads from her Bible.  We talk every night about how we saw God that day, and we attend church together - more than once - every week.  I don't need to explain my husband's spiritual life to you, but I don't want it being questioned, so I thought I would let you know Kevin does in fact have a strong faith.  He simply was joking around about the hours we spent waiting for the walk-through of the nativity.

So many friends have said that since they got there early, they were able to enjoy the nativity scenes.  Please go, and see the hundreds of hours of work this church put into this ministry.  The actors, the props, the message itself, about what Christmas is REALLY about, is simply amazing.  I am going to call the church next year and ask what day and time is the best to go, and we will visit it again, because it really is wonderful.

Also, even though the wait was long, and Kevin ended up getting ill (and made a few jokes!) I was so thankful about the conversation my girls and I had afterwards.  They asked a lot of questions, and we were able to look the Scripture up together and talk about it.  Interestingly, their main interest afterwards was about Satan not the nativity, bc the church put on a skit about Adam and Eve while we were in the sanctuary.  They were asking about how Satan can disguise himself...and we told them about the background of Satan, and what presence he tries to have in our lives now.  

So in summary, we encourage you to go early to the nativity, do not let my prior blog post about the wait discourage you please.  I would hope - to my few readers that I have - that my words would not weigh so heavily as to change your mind if you were planning to attend.  In addition, I have the feeling that if I continue to write on this blog, not everyone will like what I have to say.  That's perfectly ok - I don't like everything everyone else has to say, either!  And that doesn't mean we can't be friends, or enjoy each other if we are family :)  I don't ever want to offend anyone, and if you're worried I might, please don't read.  This blog serves as my journal, a glimpse into my life.  I'm not handing out pamphlets with my opinions :)  But my hope is that much more often than not, I can encourage someone, not tear anyone down.  That makes me very sad, thinking I might ever do that.  I spend hours a week giving to others, and trying to encourage and uplift - I would hate to think anything I ever say or do would be counterintuitive to that end.  

Thank you for reading.  My next post will be about what Taylor thinks I should do with my life - it will add some levity for sure :)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Kevin's turn

Kevin's WAY funnier than I am.  It's one of the things I love most about him.  He makes me laugh at almost anything.

Unless I'm really pissed at him, and there's nothing funny about that.

This picture has nothing to do with this post.  It was taken at Tatie's pre-k
 graduation this past June.  But it's nice to put a face with a name, right?

So tonight we went to a neighboring town to see an acclaimed Living Nativity.  When I say acclaimed, I mean I heard maybe 2 people say it was awesome, and I saw a bunch of signs for it.  I then drew the conclusion that it must be amazing - and it was free - so I had my hopes on this being a memory for the books.

It ran from 5-8.  We wanted to take the girls to Pizza Hut afterwards (read above - memory for the books remember?) and wanted them in bed early, since they stayed up late last night, sleeping over my in-laws.

Yes, that was awesome.  But I can't get off topic.

So we show up shortly after 5, so we could have the rest of our evening as we planned.  Our first indication that we were in over our heads should have been the 10 men with glowsticks directing where to park - and the huge lot was already filled.  Hmm, I mused, I thought this just started at 5?  Did everyone get here early?

So we get out of the car, and Taylor's already complaining about the line.  We're not even IN the line yet.

Fast forward a LONG wait outside in line, to get inside the church to wait in another line, to get a letter (that's how we would know our group was ready to be called - we were letter P and I will probably remember that for the rest of my life) , to sit in the sanctuary (which was nice actually - music, a little skit, and no less than 50 children screaming NoNoNoNoNo....but we couldn't be upset with them, it's just not socially acceptable to be an adult and scream), to wait in ANOTHER line...

We finally get outside to see the nativity scenes.  2 1/2 hours have passed, along with our sense of humor.  We left before the scenes were done, we couldn't feel our toes any longer, and Kevin actually was feeling ill.

"She'll see it later, Clark, her eyes are frozen."  Name that movie.

So anyway, that's the backstory for the note Kevin just wrote me, that I had to share.  Because see, I couldn't just write a "Top Ten Things Better than the Living Nativity" without a backstory.  You'd wonder if we'd lost our religion.

Here it is - Kevin's Top Ten Things Better than the Living Nativity.

10.  Listening to Oprah radio
9.  Watching the Mets win the World Series
8.  Getting kicked in the crotch
7.  Watching highlights of all of the Duggar's births
6.  Getting my cavity filled without novocaine
5.  Wearing a rat fur around a hungry boa
4.  Watching 2011 Eagles season
3.  Handtied in a room with Sandusky and Fine
2.  Getting locked in a closet with Wolverine
1.  Anything

Don't let that deter you from stopping by...they put so much work into it, and it really was well done.  Just get there at 10am to get a crack at it before half of the tri-state areas joins in.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

another embarrassing story

For you Niki, since I seem to entertain you with stories that are humiliating for me, haha for you. :)

I coupon.  I spend a chunk of time cutting and organizing my coupons, and then planning my trip to whatever store has a great sale.  A few weeks ago, I was on my way out the door while the kids were in school, to go to the grocery.  Hadn't eaten yet, so I made myself a fruit smoothie, and drank it in the car.

I was feeling great - childless, gonna save some major money, beautiful day, life is good.  Singing in the car kind of good.

I get to the store, and my good mood continues.  They have enough of the products that I want to score my deal, and I practically skip through the store, saying - and smiling - hello to stockers, other shoppers, small children.

I check out, and the cashier takes note of my deal, and we get to talking about coupons.  I notice she looks deeply at me, and I wondered if maybe she is a little special.

You know special...

I get to my car, unload and am heading home.  My tongue moves along my teeth and it feels like there's something there.  At a red light, I lower my visor mirror and...

I have approximately 50 chewed up pieces of blueberry and strawberry seeds stuck in my teeth.  My teeth were COVERED in chunks of fruit.  I didn't know what to do for a second, I just stared at myself, mortified I was in public like that!!

So who' know...special, now?  The cashier probably couldn't figure out how I haven't managed to coupon my way to a toothbrush.

Next up, the time my boob fell out of my shirt.  Or maybe I should keep that one to myself.

Spanx Me

My brother-in-law is getting married 2 days after Christmas, to his girl of 4 years who I LOVE.  I am so happy about this upcoming wedding!  My girls are going to be the flower girls, Kevin is best man and they have asked me to do a reading.  That means people are going to be looking at me.  Which means, I need to wear Spanx under my dress.

I found a dress I love, and it was a real treat because it's a size 14W (the W is for Womens not Wide, like I thought for years...but really, you say tomata, I say tomato) - and I am not a 14.  More like a 16.  No, an 18.  Why not just tell it like it is, it's like being pregnant, you can't hide it.

Unless you're like one of those "I didn't know I was pregnant" women on that TLC show.  How do you NOT know you're pregnant until you're popping out a kid on a toilet?!  But I digress.

So anyway, I found this beautiful dress.  God blessed me, because I tried on a ton of dresses that either made me look like a tent or I couldn't zip it up.  I had been trying on dresses in the "regular" section, but then had to bite my pride, and ask a salesgirl if they had a womens section (Macy's).  She started to say they didn't have one, and another salesgirl butted in and said that they did, but it was small and all the way at the back of the store by the bathrooms.

That walk, through the 2nd floor of Macy's, was long.  I was with my mom, and couldn't look at her for fear I would cry.  Why are the fatties banned to the back of the store?  Once we were there, there was a dismal selection of black, brown and blue dresses.  It was like they were saying, "You are allowed to go to a funeral, but no fun for you.  There is no such thing as a fat girl getting a dress to go somewhere fun. Who do you think you are?"  So I walked around the few racks, and hidden in one was this champagne colored dress with some beading around the middle and a little jacket, 3 quarter sleeves...I loved it.  No others like it and a size 14...but I thought, I'll just see what it looks like and maybe I can find it at another store.

It fit, my mom and I were almost jumping up and down.

So fast forward to last weekend, I head back to the mall, this time to Boscov's where I had heard their store brand of Spanx was less expensive and fit better.  Because, dear friends, the last time I wore a Spanx I got a horrible rash where the fabric cut into me, and I might have torn the crotch trying to take it off.

No not might have.  I tore the crotch.

I needed a new one also because with this dress I had to get the kind that had a strapless bra built in.  So I start looking at them (the kind that has the bra and then goes all the way to mid thigh - it's a little scary), and realize that they're only giving the bra size...I was expecting to see L, XL, etc.  So I choose my bra size and then head back, looking at this garment and wondering how on earth how it is a "one size fits all" kind of situation.

I undress, which is never pleasant...things always look worse in a department store dressing room.  When will they learn that women will buy more if their lighting was better?!  I suck in my breath, and start in.  It took considerable maneuvering, some swearing, a prayer and I was panting by the time that thing was on.  But it does the job, and I admire how my thighs are missing a few of their regular ripples, and my stomach is smoother.  Ok I'll buy it.

Wait, ohmygoodness.  How am I going to get this thing off?  What if I rip it?  I stand there for a minute, not knowing what my next move should be.  Should I start from the top, and just slowly roll it down?  Yes, that's smart, go slow.  My mom starts to ask if I'm ok in there, do I need help?  Help would be good Ma, just go ahead and trim about 50 pounds off my stomach and my ass so I don't have to be sweating bullets in a Boscov's lady's dressing room where no less than 20 women over the age of 70 have come in and gone, trying on their bosom holders and slips...wondering how and if I'm ever going to remove what has become a second skin off of me.

The end of this story is that I did in fact get out of the generic-brand-Spanx, and it is now hanging in my closet, laughing at me until the wedding.  I hear it, late at night, taunting me.  A best friend/worst enemy kind of situation.

I will add this to my list of Top Ten things that scare the living daylights out of me.  Wondering if I had to be cut out of a Spanx in a dressing room.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


I've been thinking a lot lately about perspective.  A week or so ago (all my days run together...) I went with 3 MOPS friends to visit a pediatric care facility that houses 119 severely disabled children.  I think the term 'disabled' is now a faux pas, but you need to understand these children have extreme physical needs.  A few times I had to pray to God to stop my tears from coming out of my eyes...He did.  I had to put my mind in a different place once or twice, because to be actually emotionally present would have led to completely breaking down.  Now, because of Bailey's quarterly CHOP visits, I have seen many children incapacitated and what usually brings me to tears is not their lot, but the way my child reacts to it.  With empathy, and deep love.  Prayers, and giving her deserved stickers and erasers to them, even though they can't see or know she is giving.  But this time, my emotions were for the children...all that they would never be able to do, and their parents.  I'm still thinking about the parents.

My children can run, skip, swim, dive, jump.... their children will never set their toes to the floor.

My children can read, write, sing, communicate, say 'I Love You'....their children mostly can not.

My children can eat and drink...their children will never know the taste of a cherished family recipe.

My children see, hear, feel, understand....these parents are left to wonder what their child thinks of their world.

My children have social relationships, and will have boyfriends....these parents will never sit in a pew on their child's wedding day.

My children's bodies are healthy and able to have babies someday....their children will not be able to make them grandparents.

From morning to evening, there a million things my girls will do that these kids will never be able to.  Of course I knew this before, but it was not a presence in my mind, certainly not daily.  It would come to mind when I saw a particular child with needs....the whole "Lord, care for him/her.  But thank you it is not my child."  True, right?

Both Bailey and Taylor have a need that yes, I wish they didn't.  Bailey's future is unknown (except by her Maker!!!) with her CF, and I admit that I feel much fear sometimes.  I try not to, because I know God doesn't want me to and I pray it's all for naught, perhaps there will be a cure or perhaps her mutation is mild enough it doesn't ever manifest itself into serious lung disease and, God forbid, premature death.  I pray.  Taylor's sensory needs are manageable, and getting easier for her and Kevin and I to navigate every day.  Both of our girls are just so healthy, I just have been FILLED with a spirit of gratitude that has not left me, since my visit to this center.  I catch myself appreciating things in a deeper, more emotional way, than I had before.  The way their hands clasp together when we pray.  The fact that they can pray.  The way they shimmy their bums after a shower in their towels.  Running ahead of me in the store.  Sitting cross legged together playing with their polly pockets, using their fingers to grasp the tiny pieces.  I've been marveling at the complex way - yet easily overlooked, seemingly, effortlessly simple - their bodies work.

And still...and STILL...I have been also forgetting.  Catching myself exasperated when they're running ahead of me in the store.  Playing polly pockets before school....hurry up the bus is going to come!!  Stop dancing around, it's past your bedtime, dry off already!

To be sure, I try to be patient with my kids.  It is in my mind daily, that this little-girl time of their life is precious.  Speeding by.  If you have read my blog at all, you know this is a struggle for me!!!  I enjoy where we are now, but I mourn for days that were, even though I have already knowingly romanticized them in my mind!!!  I try to enjoy them, knowing their childlike hearts are sacred.  Knowing that they won't always want to crawl on my lap....when they do now, their long, gangly legs curl around mine, toes touching the floor.  I know they won't always want me to sing them bedtime lullies, so I try to be patient when they ask for one more.  But I get tired, I get shortsighted...I am a MOM.  Pulled in many different directions at any given time.  Feeling underappreciated, feeling spent.

But I am praying to keep my perspective, I want to keep my sight on how blessed my life is with my family.  Sure my children will need disciplined - often - and it would be a rare person that doesn't lose her cool when she happens upon a child who mistook a permanent marker for a regular one and didn't have a placemat underneath...on the carpet.   But that really doesn't matter.  My children need to learn of course, but I need to remember what really matters, what's important.

I need to keep perspective.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

I thought I'd never allow it...

As I write this, my girls are watching a Barbie movie.  UCK!  I was thinking about how pre-children, especially pre-girls-influenced-by-other-girls, I thought I'd never let them have Barbies, much less 10, much less watch Barbie movies.  If we had a bigger house they might even have a Barbie house with a Barbie car parked out front.  With 2 scantily clad Barbies who have perky, big breasts compared to their skinny, tiny waists, tucked inside.

And here we are.  Why did I abandon my principles?  How did I get over my disgust of Barbie enough to let her and some of her closest pals move inside my house?!  It happened slowly I guess.

Another I-thought-I'd-never is Spongebob.  The girls saw a show playing on the tv somewhere - I forget where, maybe a dentist's office or something - and they cracked up.  A lot.  Which made me crack up.  So I let them watch a show once in a while, saying "Remember girls, we don't talk like that..." when Spongebob would say 'stupid' or other offensive comments.  Recently, I have said no to them watching that particular show at all, because I thought I could actually hear their brain cells dying.

For now, Barbie has a home here.  And Ken.  What happened to Skipper, wasn't she Barbie's right hand girl?  Anyway, I think most parents have relented on a thing or two.  What has been yours?

My pretty pretties, at Easter.  The Easter bunny gave them a Barbie.

Friday, October 7, 2011

My 2 cents about marriage

So Kevin and I recently started attending a marriage tune-up series within our small group at church.  We had become involved with this small group several months ago - there are 6 or 7 couples, most of them were good friends of ours already and the rest we have been getting to know better.  What's nice is that we have become more comfortable over these past months so that now as we're getting into more "heavy lifting" we can feel more open with sharing with the group.  Well, I'm usually always open and most of the girls in our group are too...I'm thinking about the men.

Anyway, this past week was the first video in the series.  Then we went over a handout and answered some questions and talked about it a bit.  It was a catalyst for Kevin and I to talk more with each other, which is always good.  We are talkers (yes, shocking I know!) yes, but we don't often really delve into our thoughts about our marriage, unless it's positive.   When we do talk about the negative, it seems to be before or after a fight.  Or during.  Hmmm.

This week I have been thinking about marriage - the different marriages I have witnessed, and why some have failed, some have survived but not thrived, and the few that are simply amazing.  I have a few opinions - and like this blog itself, it's JUST my opinion.

For a marriage to thrive I think -

*They need Jesus!!  Jesus is the only true model of grace, forgiveness, selflessness, love.  For a Christian marriage that prioritizes faith and following Jesus, I believe they will receive blessings.  Going to church regularly as a family, and participating in other church offered activities seems to bring couples and families closer together.

*It helps to have some money.  That is a blanket statement but from what I see/read - many couples fight A LOT about money when they have none, and when they have a lot there are other problems caused in part from it.  So some seems good.   Also, when you have some, you can enjoy the money...a decent home in a good neighborhood, paying your bills in full, having some fun with it.  When you are broke, the stress both partners feel trying to earn the money, and then deciding what-gets-paid-when, etc etc...adds a lot of stress.  Stress leads to arguing, less sex, and other unpleasantries.  They say money is a big factor in our country's horrid divorce rate.

*The couple should have very similar parenting philosophies.

*It helps to have a strong support system of family and friends that have BOTH of your backs.

*A couple should prioritize time alone, and not just 15 minutes while the kids watch a cartoon on a Saturday morning.   Date nights and getaways are priceless...but come with a this is where the some money part is helpful again.  And the strong support system so you have babysitters.

*Now this is JUST my observation, so please no offense.  AND this is true only for couples who have children living at home - but it seems to me that the more outside work both partners do, the more stress at home. SO, in an ideal situation, I would think a marriage would benefit from one partner working less or not at all outside the home.

*Along those lines, it seems that when a couple has defined "chores" or if they're both on the same page about housework and childrearing, all the better.   Fighting about who does what/when and how much sleep they get or lose, or whose turn it is to do what....these small fights add up to feelings of resentment and bitterness.  When a couple fights about who's going to do the laundry, or take out the feeling is, they are saying "I feel disrespected that you haven't done this chore, because I have done this-this-and-this and I am feeling used and abused...."

*A strong daily language of gratitude and love goes a long way.  It appears that the more respectful and loving the couple speaks to each other, the more respectful and loving they feel towards each other.

*A couple that lays together, stays together.  That's not true...but it helps.

* about a couple that prays together, plays together...

*BUT having your own hobbies and time with friends separate from your spouse is healthy too.

*If a family has a special needs child, it seems to me that for a couple to remain healthfully and happily married, they need to have MORE of everything listed above.  More money - insurance.  More support - time outs individually and together.  More attention to detail, more sweet talk between the couple, more respect, more gratitude, more more more.

*And last but not least....HUMOR!

I am sure there are many other factors that lead to a healthy marriage, and every marriage is different.  For me, I had to have the kind of man that helped me shower after my difficult labor and c-section with Bailey.  I still remember the feeling of love that came over me as he so tenderly washed me and didn't mind all of the blood and gore that came with childbirth.  For others, the wife is happier keeping everything under wraps - literally.  But finding what works is key, and feeling satisfied, heard, and loved.

Kevin and I love being married, but certainly have had too many arguments to count, and more tears than could fill a bucket.  It's a work in progress and will be until the day we die.  But I'm excited to learn more tools and ways to help our marriage along, so we don't just endure it, but enjoy it.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

I'm sorry, so sorry...

Tonight I took the girls to our town's library, after their art class.  I'm actually really into our new routine, as their art class is right around the corner from the library so I think it will encourage us to go weekly.  Every time we do, I'm reminded of how much I love spending time among the books, students, kids corner...and they have a couponing basket!!

Anyway, as we walked in tonight, I heard a child humming loudly.  I didn't see him at first, just heard him.  Within 5 seconds, I realized it was an autism-type of hum.  I walked my children across the room to the bathroom - I was thankful that in the car I told them once we got to the library we had to wash our hands from the art class.  Once we were in the bathroom, I reminded them that some children can't help the things they do, and this little boy might hum a lot while we were there and I wanted them to say a prayer for him in their heads, but to not say anything to him about his humming.  Bailey is always a shoe-in for the kid-who-won't-embarrass-me, but Tatie Tot's a loose cannon.  She has gotten SO much better, but I was unsure if she came nose to nose with the humming boy, that her questions, complaints or concerns might come spilling out.

We were there about 45 minutes, and what bothered me wasn't the boy's was his mom.  His beautiful mom, there with her son and her other child, a daughter about 7.   Her son looked about 5.  She must have said "I'm sorry" about 50 times.  What touched me so much was that her apologies were in front of her daughter, that made my heart break.  She had nothing to be sorry for!  She took her children to the LIBRARY...not an expensive restaurant.  Just because her son has a special need, she shouldn't go places?  Or she deserves to be there any less?  AND...her son seemed to have a serious special need, but perhaps he knows what she's saying too.

I am so happy to say, that not only was Taylor - both my girls - on their best behavior, but it wasn't so long ago, that a noise like the humming would have prevented Taylor from enjoying the library at all.  A year ago, definitely 2 years ago, I would have had to bribe Bailey with something, and had to leave, carrying a screaming Tatie in my arms.  I am so thankful, that a trip to the library was so enjoyable for my girls and I.  I did not say, 'I'm sorry' once.

It wasn't so long ago I was saying a lot of apologies.  In front of my children.  I apologized when Taylor held her ears during dance class because she hated the tapping noise.  I apologized when she screamed at the Applebee's because the family at the next table ordered fajitas and she hated the smell and the smoke.  I apologized to the checkout girl at the grocery store, as I balanced a mad Tatie on my hip as I threw foods that she hated to look at on the belt.  I apologized to family, friends, teachers.  Why was I sorry?

This woman tonight, she left the library skipping.  Literally.  Her son didn't want to leave, his humming became even louder and he was trying to fall to the floor and she half carried him skipping out the door, trying to get him to skip.  How exhausted is this mom.  I desperately wanted to approach her, but I get so nervous about doing that.  It brings tears to me now, thinking of my missed opportunity, of my fear.

That should be what I'm sorry about.  For not telling this mom she had nothing to be sorry for.

Friday, September 23, 2011


Bailey had a nightmare this week, and it freaked her out so much she was crying in school the next day.  She has only had a few nightmares, but they really traumatize her.  This past one, she dreamt that Taylor had an "itching disease" that made her whole body burn up and eat itself, and then she died.  Poor thing!  Of course as she recounted this to me the next morning, Taylor was right there and her eyes became as big as saucers hearing about Bailey dreaming that her skin had pointy things that stuck out and turned red and ate itself.  We had a nice chat.

Every few months I have a nightmare, and thankfully I have an understanding husband who will - probably in his sleep but I'll take it - ask me what it was about at 3am and then hold me until I fall back asleep.  Sometimes I can't go back to sleep bc it's so the one where I dreamt Bailey had a "Mr Wilson" in her school who stole her and she was a missing child.  That was AWFUL and I seriously thought about keeping her home from school the next day.  If she had a teacher named Mr Wilson I certainly would have been panicked!

Last night I didn't have a nightmare, but my dream was unpleasant.  I dreamt I ran into my ex-boyfriend...we dated in high school for a couple years but I haven't seen him at all since I started college in '97.  He was very special to me, my first love if you will....and I have wondered over the years here and there if he's as happy as I am, if he has love in his life.  Anyway, I dreamt we ran into each other and he looked me up and down, and then said, "Oh.  You look..."  And so I said, "Weathered?"  And he said, "Yeah...I guess...different."

That was it, then I woke up.  I promptly told Kevin, who assured me I don't look weathered...but he's biased of course :)  Thank God  Kevin loves me so much.  He sees me through these rose colored glasses, and I don't know why except that he just loves me and I am just so thankful for that.  If I did run into my ex, I would be so embarrassed about how I look.  I rarely pay to get my hair done, I get like 2 pedicures a year, never a manicure, my clothes are usually the colors of dark and darker, and of course there's my weight.

Today I kept thinking about being "weathered." I thought, you know I have done a lot of things I'm proud of since he and I broke up... and I was not thinking about that, just what he would think if he looked at me.   Or I guess what I'm assuming he would think.  Because if I ran into him and he maybe had a receding hairline, or a few wrinkles (no way would he be fat, it's just not in his DNA) I wouldn't really see that.  I'd see the same eyes of the young boy who was the first boy to tell me he loved me, who bought me a ring for my 16th birthday from the Best store (that's really what the store was called), who wrote me love letters and took me to my school dances, who listened to me cry my eyes out for hours when I failed my driving test.  I'd hope to see happiness in his face, that he is doing well in life and has love.

Well, it was just a dream.  I may be a bit weathered...I have stretch marks, an 8yr old minivan not to mention an 8 yr old kid, bills, responsibilities.  I'm no high school kid anymore.

Thank God.

I'm going to go snuggle my husband now.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

can't help it

*Just a warning - this post is dumb.  There is no point to it.  I am procrastinating doing important things that will require thought and movement.  I really don't even know why I wrote it.  If you are like me and procrastinating, waste a minute and read it.  If you are a productive, busy person...skip it.*

Why do we love the things we love?  Associations with family, friends?  Tied to memories?  Just the way we're made?

I love the smell of idea why.

I love the smell of the bookstore.  Coffee, books...freedom.

I love the smell of Mom boiling a chicken and baking pie.  Comforts.

I love the smell of Kevin's neck, and my kids hair.  Closeness, a privilege.  They're mine.

I love the feel of a baby's hand on my face.  Sweetness.

I love the feel of the top of Kevin's hand.  Strength.  Tenderness.

I love touching my kids ears.  When they were born, it was the first thing I looked at, glad they both had their fathers ears.  One of my cousin's had an ear thing, and I remember as a teen watching her touch her son's ears.  It seemed so loving to me, and remember thinking that is how he will know his mommy loves him.  So ears became more that just ears to me.

I love violin music.  Relaxing.

I love being called Mama more than anything in the world...more than Mommy or Brynnie or sweetheart...I just think Mama is the most precious word you could hear.  I don't hear that as often anymore.

I love feeling wanted.   Needed, not as can be quite a responsibility. 

I love the sound of Taylor's laugh.  There is nothing like it.

I hate the sound of Kevin snoring.  There is nothing like it.

I hate clutter.  Feeling closed in.

I hate feeling rushed.

I hate yelling, and am working on extinguishing this habit as a discipline technique.  Easier said than done, to not repeat the sins of the father.   My girls get the best of me, but have also gotten the worst.

I hate the sound of dogs barking.  Annoying.

I love the way my mom says "Hi Brynnie" when she calls me.  I know that right then nothing is more important to her than hearing about my day.  She always tells me I do too much, and I feel like everyone else in the world but her thinks I should do more.  No one loves me like my mom does.

I love watching our 2 black cats lick each other, and snuggle.  They're brothers, they're not "into" it, they just really love each other.  It makes me so happy we adopted both - where would one be without the other?  Maela, our older cat, hates them and wishes we had left both at the pound.

I love hearing my girls play together and actually get along.  Sisters.

I love hearing Kevin laugh so hard I know it's imminent that he will vomit.  I don't like the vomiting part, but if I'm the one who made him laugh I feel so proud of myself.

I'll write something more important later.  Maybe.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Am I where I want to be at 32?

Today is my 32nd birthday.  Kevin made me Eggos, Bailey made me a card and wrapped it, Taylor said she wanted it to be her birthday, but then wrapped me up some pretty stones...and then took them back.  It felt right.

I remember as a child there was a young woman in my neighborhood, I think she was in her early 20's, maybe I was 8 or 9.  She had a boyfriend, and I remember feeling something - like a Whoa! feeling - when I saw them together, taking a walk.  There was something about her that I remember feeling in awe of, and wanting to be just like her when I grew up...and really, I didn't even know her.  But her confidence, her laugh, her joy (what I perceived at the time anyway) was something I wanted.  And for someone to have their arm around me, and look at me like her boyfriend looked at her.

I didn't really have plans for my life when I was younger.  I knew I wanted to get married and be a mother - I've known that since making mudpies and carrying around my Cabbage Patch baby.  But when I went to college, I realized I had to have some kind of goal - so I majored in Psychology, reasoning that I would like the "people and listening" kind of field.  A year of social work taught me I needed a Masters to really have any choices within that career line, and I started taking 2 courses in Counseling - and then found out I was pregnant with Bailey.  I dropped out and haven't gone back.  And now I have a dire case of the "I don't know what I want to do with my life."

I am so thankful God blessed me with a husband, and I love being a mother.  Being a wife and mom will always be the most important roles I will have - that and being a servant of the Lord.  I am asking Him to open my eyes to the work He has in store for me.

When I turned 30, I told myself that my 20's were about being a young wife, and a new mother - learning the ropes.  I wanted my 30's to be about maturing, growing, refining - and honestly, losing a big chunk of weight.  I don't think I've accomplished any of those things yet.  I still have a temper and am too quick to yell, I still am not disciplined in taking the time with God I need to, I still am - minus maybe 10 pounds - the same weight I was when I delivered Taylor, almost 6 yrs ago.  That's right folks, a full term baby.  Big sigh.  These things make me feel like a failure, make me feel like time is passing and I have nothing to show for it.

But that's not the truth.  I have 2 girls who are happy and healthy...and with their 2 separate issues, I am even more grateful for that fact.  I have a husband who still loves me, still provides for his family.  I am close with my mother - just this past weekend she came over and made me peach pie, and said a prayer of thankfulness for me while we held hands at the Cracker Barrel.  I have friends who I really enjoy...I may not have a best friend, which I really miss having in my life, but I know I am loved and a few friends even think I'm funny.  That's a great feeling.

So at 32 I'm not exactly where I want to be, but I'm thankful for all the blessings in my life.  And really - that feeling that young woman must have had, laughing down the street with her boyfriend - I have that feeling every day.  Joy and love.  Just what I wanted.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

An addendum

My last entry on this blog, which feels like a billion years ago, was basically about how much I love this season - give or take some temper tantrums and sibling fighting -  of having young children.  That I want to enjoy them and not fear for when this season is over.

I wrote that entry while my children were in bed.  Sleeping like angels.  Quiet, not ripping my house and each other apart.

I wrote that entry after being away on vacation with my hottie husband and friends.  Just adults.  Fun.  No chores or the monotony of every day life.  No waking up to Taylor picking her nose and wiping it on my arm.  No listening to Bailey whine for the hundreth time over the course of an hour.

I wrote that entry with less brain cells than I had 8 years ago.  I will never get them back, they are gone.

So this is my addendum to that last post.

I love my girls, they are my life.  But I am REALLY looking forward to school starting next Tuesday.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

such a freak

Last week Kevin and I went to Vegas, what a trip!  We had 2 days with several friends which was such a good time, and then 3 days just the two of us.  Well, 1/2 of Monday and Friday was spent flying, but we were still away from home, without the responsibilities of work, family, house, etc.  On the flights I read a book each way, it was luxurious.  

While in Vegas we enjoyed the strip, the restaurants, and played some games.  We rented a car and took a day trip to see the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam - yay a cross-off for my bucket list!  It was amazing.  

That being said, I never need to go to Vegas again.  If friends wanted to go and we could afford it I might, but I'm too much of an East Coast girl.  Also, it's not called 'sin city' for nothing.  No place for children, that is for sure.  The smoke alone everywhere was suffocating.

Now that I gave my 2 cents and a quick recap of my vacay, here is why I am a freak.

So, I know that I am sentimental.  Emotional.  My girls getting older has been pushing me to my limit though.  I can barely stand it.  I am grieving them not being itty-bitties anymore, even though that was no walk in the park.  When I look at pics of them from when they were younger, I choke back this rock in my throat, I get filled with so many feelings.  I wish I could do it over, do it better.  Taylor had so many needs, I didn't know how to help her...I wish I could go back and do more for her.  Be a better mommy.  I wish I could be a better mommy to Bailey too...the poor thing spent hours with her little dollies or books or tv on the floor by herself, as I rocked and nursed and cried right along with a mad little Taylor.  When Taylor was 3 1/2 - 4 and Bailey was 5 1/2 - 6 yrs old, life definitely started getting more manageable.  Taylor was in private therapy and then accepted into the special services in our school district, which made a world of difference.  Bailey's bowel issues (sounds benign but our days for at least 4 years revolved around her heiney - medicine, enimas, stool samples...and a therapist to try to talk my kid into pooping) started improving.  Truly everyday still brought many challenges, but I didn't dread Kevin going to work in the morning...and I even tried to have the house straightened up and a hot meal for him when he got home.  A step up from him walking in the door, dropping his briefcase to catch 2 children while his wife...possibly in the same sweatpants that he saw her in yesterday...ran to our room to turn on the tv and drown out the sounds of little ones needing, wanting, needing. 

I love feeling more capable.  I love feeling like I have some of 'me' back.  I love enjoying my children, not surviving them.  But I have this ache in my heart to hold those little girls again, to hear that baby babble and feel their chubby hands touch my face.  They are growing older...and soon, I know, growing away from me.  How am I going to handle that, if I'm already acting nutty now?  I still have so much of I am still a stay-at-home mom and this summer, we have spent many days the three of us doing fun stuff.  I am SO thankful for that!  It's not all roses, I lose my temper, they argue with each other and disobey me, they still make big messes and throw big fits.  But they are mine, they are young children to me still.  So if I am feeling like this now, what am I going to do when they get even older?

A part of me would love to have another child.  But Kevin told me a few years ago, and I haven't forgotten it because it was probably dead-on...he said, "you don't want another baby, you just want baby Bailey back."  Not that I wouldn't want Taylor as a baby back (um...), but he means the life I had when Bailey was little.  She was such a good baby, and I had no responsibilities other than her care.  If I could do it over I'd love to have some friends too - I was so lonely then with no MOPS in my life!  But I truly enjoyed motherhood and other than her CF diagnosis (albeit a HUGE adjustment that first year) life was more simple.  When Tatie came, stress was overwhelming and I feel like I missed out on her infancy.  I feel so badly about that - I wish I could have helped her stop crying.  She was such a pretty baby.  

All this to say, I am telling you that these children have done a number on me.  And I am praying I can keep my head up so they don't see me being a nutjob and have to undergo years of therapy bc of an oppressive mama.  I just want them to enjoy their childhoods.  I want to enjoy it too, not fear for when it's over.  

Friday, July 29, 2011

An open weekend

Kevin and I are in shock that we have a weekend with absolutely NOTHING planned.  Nada.  The only thing we have to do is go to church on Sunday - because we want to, and because we work in the nursery for the first service.  That's it!

So we are toying with a few ideas about what to do...anyone have any cheap suggestions?  So far my idea is -

Go to the big Burlington library for the morning on Sat, then pool in the afternoon, early bed for kids bc we'll run them ragged and then date-night-in for Kev and I.  Sunday - maybe Philly for a museum or something?  Maybe hit up the kids fave - Olive Garden - for dinner?

The world is our oyster.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

What's something really weird that you enjoy?

So I know I am not alone in this...but one of my favorite things to do is pop zits.  God help my girls if they have teenage acne, I will have to sit on my hands to not go at their faces.  I LOVE it.  The sound, the surprise of what's inside (ok that sounded twisted but it's true)...I love everything about it except actually HAVING a zit, at least where people can see!  Kevin knows it's a big present to me if he finds a zit somewhere on himself and lets me go at it.  Makes me SO happy.  Sometimes when I can't sleep I imagine really great zits.  (TMI?  Probably.  Definitely).

*a note about this link.  First, I am proud of myself that I even learned how to do that.  Yes, I don't have a clue normally.  Second, I googled "picture of a zit" and this site comes up, with a video of a back cyst being drained.  WHOA.  Not only was that the biggest zit I've ever seen...but I am not as into zits as I thought I was.  I feel a little sick to my stomach and I coudn't even finish watching it.  Maybe it'd be better in real life.  I also learned (from the video comments) that there's some really weird people out there that are TOO into it.  Like in a weirder way than me.  

So what's your freaky interest.  Well, I guess don't tell me if it's REALLY freaky, I might not look at you the same.  Or if it involves your significant other....this ain't that kind of post.  

But really I'm curious....anyone?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Just checking

I have had a lot of really important and/or fun things going on lately, but all those things would take tired-old-me too much time to write about.  I felt like writing a little something, but not too much.

So I thought about what happened to me yesterday at the McDonald's.  It involves an old lady.  Maybe some of you remember I had a bit of a run-in with another old lady at the ShopRite several weeks ago, who admonished my Hottie Tottie for not listening to me, and standing by my cart.

I'm not sure what this old lady admonished, but I felt it.

So yesterday morning I took Bailey to McD's for breakfast as a treat on our way to CHOP.  Taylor was at my mom's camp, it was just the 2 of us.  It was 9:45 and B was really hungry.  So was I.  I ordered and had on my tray:

2 egg mcmuffins for me  (they were 2 for $3 and I was planning on saving the 2nd one for lunch - REALLY!!!!  I actually didn't even end up eating it at all, it sat in our lunchbag all day.)

3 hashbrowns - Bailey asked for 2, I wanted 1

2 small cups, B got hi-c orange, I got water

1 order of pancakes.

So we are at our table ready to sit down and Old Lady stops and says, and I quote, "She's not going to eat all that, is she?"

It caught me off guard, and I explained who-was-going-to-eat-what off our tray.

I bet she didn't believe I'd save the 2nd egg sammie for later.  That's ok, I wasn't sure myself.

Anyway, she responds, and I QUOTE, "Just checking."

Just checking what exactly?  That I wasn't going to shove the whole tray of junk food down my kid's throat?  What was she checking?

So as she walks away and my wits are coming back to me a bit, I say, "But you don't need to worry about that, do you."

She looked at me like how-dare-you and we dropped it.  But I was mad.

She didn't know we rarely frequent McD's.  ChickFilA...yes.  Perhaps biweekly...sometimes weekly.  But not McD's, it's a treat.

She didn't know Bailey was going to be having a checkup at CHOP  that day, taking hours.   If Bailey asked for McDs for breakfast, then my goodness, she is going to get it.

She didn't know that not only was Bailey spending her day at CHOP, but Bailey knew she was missing a day of VBS and that Taylor was spending her day at Nana's gymnastics camp, having fun, while she had a stick shoved down her throat, had to breathe forcefully over and over into a machine, and had to be examined by her dr, 2 nurses, the nutritionist and the physical therapist.  She didn't complain once.

She didn't know that Bailey's supposed to be gaining weight.

She didn't know it's none of her business.

So that's my story.  And guess what, Bailey had about 1/2 of her pancakes and hashbrowns.

I won't mention that yours truly finished said pancakes and hashbrowns.  What....I was emotional eating, Bailey had a CHOP appt!!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Real friends

Today I had the pleasure of being invited over a friend's house for a swim playdate, along with a few other friends and their kids.  I went for a few reasons - 1.  I love to spend my afternoons in a pool with mom-friends.  Who wouldn't?  2.  My kids need the socialization in the summer...both of 'em.  3.  The last time we were in this particular pool, a few days ago, Tatie was stung in the head by a I didn't want her to be scared to go back and I thought if it was too far in between, she would be.

Earlier this week, my kids and I went to our community pool.  I felt out of place, and the kids that were there didn't seem to want to play with my kids - they had other friends there that they just wanted to be with.  It just left a bad feeling in my mouth, I don't know.  Anyway, at our community pool, I was happy to leave.  

Today, I didn't want to leave.  In fact, it took my kid screaming for the millionth time for me to finally pull myself out of the water to get ready to leave.  It wasn't just that I didn't have to suck in my gut, strutting around in my suit.  It wasn't that us mom-friends have several years now of knowing each other under our belts, lots of stories and memories.  It wasn't even the faith that we share.  It wasn't that the kids -while they sometimes bicker and get mad at each other - seem to enjoy playing together.

It was being wanted.  Wanted.  Isn't that one of the best feelings in the world?  Oh and we can't forget accepted.  Tatie was in form...growling, being fresh, crying, screaming...and no one batted an eye.  They just said, as we peered from the pool to the trampoline where we could hear crying, "Oh it's yours again Brynn..."

I guess it was just a stark difference from yesterday to today.  I'm thankful.  I have several REAL friends in my life, I am so blessed.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The funky smell

I am very discouraged that my Sunday afternoon is going to be all about trying to find the source of a funky smell in my downstairs.  One of the cats have peed somewhere.

Why oh why do we have 3 cats.  I know why.., but I'm not feeling it today.  So much cat hair, expense, mess...and smell.  I try so hard to keep my house from smelling like a cat-house, you know the ones where you walk in and immediately smell cat litter and cat food.  Yuck.  Friends have told me that it doesn't...and even my mother-in-law said it doesn't smell, and I think she would have told me if it did.

Today it smells.  Oh well...I think while I'm down there I'll wash the curtains, dust, clean the windows and vacuum really well.

I'll also fantasize about ripping out the carpet and throwing out our old furniture, but like I have mentioned on here, I'm trying to keep my house-fantasies under control.

Once I get the house cleaned up, I'll remember how much I love those naughty kitties, and I'll be happy again that we brought them home last October.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Slipping through my fingers

Time is slipping away.  It is mid-July already, how did that happen?!  We have really enjoyed the summer so far, and the next several weeks are filled with pool party playdates, beach days, VBS, gymnastics camp and just hang-around-the-house days.  My girls are at a really fun age and I am having what I think will be the time of my life.

There are so many moments that I stop for a second and realize how fast it's going.  It really is true that before you know it, your kids are grown.  Mine aren't of course, they are 7 and 5.  But I can see how that will happen.  I remember when they were bitties, that old adage would kind of piss me off.  I thought the women saying it completely forgot what it's like to have little ones...all the stress, crying, lack of sleep, diapers and feedings...and they romanticized the past.  I guess that's what soon as you start to sleep and enjoy being a person again, not just a busy, sweats-wearing, toddler-sitting-on-your-lap-crying-while-you-pee kind of mom, but a realize it did go fast.  I don't miss my kids crying, pulling at my legs, at the sight of me putting on my makeup because they knew that meant I was leaving...but I do miss them waving at the window, with little pouts on their faces.  Who else loves me that much that if I go to the grocery store they cry?

They're growing, my girls.  Not grown, but growing.  I'm happy they still run to me with open arms when they see me...most of the time anyway.  Sometimes they just say "hi mom" and I know that they aren't babies anymore, when I was their world.  I don't want to be their world...there is so much beauty and fun out there I want them to enjoy.  But I don't think anyone or anything will ever make feel so special and loved, as these little girls have.  I'm not their world, but they really are mine.

Today, they are still kind-of little.  And I love it.  As I write, they have on their gymnastics orange and black leopard leotards, with purple butterfly wings, princess dress-up shoes and train conductor hats.  Can you picture it?  Cuteness.  They are using their walkie talkies and doing a search of the house for princess treasure.  I tried to get them to search out dust with "princess fairy dust wands" -aka Swiffers - but they didn't buy it.  They took the Swiffers, but no dusting.

They may make me crazy sometimes, and some days still feel long and stressful.  But I wouldn't trade this time in my life for anything.  What a gift.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Trying to change the way I think, one thought at a time...

Upon seeing my reflection, I wish I was thinner...

*God, thank you that I have an able body, that is whole and with all 5 senses.  Thank you that I have a body that can birth and nurse babies, hold my husband, hug my mom.  Thank you for the beauty which surrounds me that I am able to feel, see, touch, taste and smell.  I am so grateful for this body.*

As I listen to my children bicker...

*Thank you God, that my children have each other.  I pray they will always be close.  Please help me teach them in a calm way how to share and enjoy each other.*

When I am frustrated with my husband...

*Lord, you have given me a precious gift in Kevin.  Teach me how to respect and honor him.   Please help me hold my tongue when I want to lash out, and help me put his needs before my wants.  Encourage me to speak kindly and warmly, and to show him I love him.*

As I compare myself with others...

*I am thankful to have friends and family in my life with so many gifts.  Please hold me up as I look to their talents, so I can learn from them, not be downhearted.   Please open my eyes for me to see my own gifts, and encourage me to use them for Your Glory.  Remind me that I don't have to keep a perfect house, make a lot of money or even maintain a thriving garden to be a "success."  The person you want me to be, I know, has nothing to do with any of those things.*

When I lay my head on the pillow tonight, I want to ask forgiveness for the times today when I did not make the right decision.  Whether it was reading emails instead of reading my devotional, or being impatient with my children...thank you God, that you so lovingly forgive me.  I want to celebrate all of the good things that happened today....thank you Lord for precious time with my family and friends.  Thank you for the beautiful day that we spent outside enjoying Your beauty.  I am grateful for Kevin working so I don't have to - thank you for his job and Kevin's heart for his family.   Thank you for another day with the people I love.

Instead of having regrets or guilt at the end of the day, I want only gratitude and a desire to live up to the person God wants me to be.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Top 10 things I like about my husband

In less than a month Kev and I will be celebrating 10 years of marriage.  It hasn't all been roses...I'll say it's been more like tulips.  But tulips are prettier anyway.  And once you plant them, they come back over and over.

Top 10 reasons I'm happy to wake up every morning and see that Gutelius chin.  

*A warning though...knowing Kev, you'll probably have some reasons in mind that I have missed.  But no worries - I know I've got a good man, these are just a few :)

10.  He chose me.

9.  He makes me feel loved.

8.  He loves the Lord, me and our girls.  The rest of the world - even his beloved Philadelphia teams - are at the bottom of his list.  (That being said, we don't make him choose.  Let's not try it out, ok?)

7.  We laugh together every single day.  He is REALLY funny.

6.  I have tons of notes he has left me over the years.  For our first year of marriage he left me a note every single day and I have them in an album.  Hundreds of post-its saying "Good morning Bump, I can't wait to see you tonight!"  He still leaves them sometimes, saying things like "Just hit the button for the coffee, I fed the ungrateful cats, hope you have fun with the girls today, love you!"  It is amazing how 5 seconds of scribble on a post-it that my husband leaves on the toilet makes me feel.

5.  Ok I have to go back to the funny thing.  Have you ever heard Kevin talk for the cats or our dead dog?  If you haven't, then you can't get it but he says the most hilarious, most awful things, holding up our animals and pretending that they're talking.  Well, he doesn't hold up the dead dog...he used to, bless Tanner's heart.  Now Tanner resides in a box in Kevin's nightstand and when the dead dog has to speak up, Kevin opens his nightstand drawer.  I guess this is one of these you-have-to-see-it kind of things. :)

4.  He's hot.  What...he is!

3.  He wants me to be happy.

2.  He has never once said to me, "The house is a mess, leftovers for dinner, what did you do all day?!" Not once.  In fact, he has come home so many times, catching the children as I practically throw them to him, and dives in.  Sometimes he'll surprise me and vacuum or put away laundry.  And that, my friends, is what does it for me.

1.  He gave me my 2 precious babies, the lights of my life.  I always wanted to be a mommy, and he made that happen.

I'd say I love you Kevin Andrew!  but the boy don't read my blog.  "What's a blog?!"

What do you worship?

Throughout this past year I have been reading from the devotional book Jesus Calling by Sarah Young.   I love this devotional and highly recommend it.  It is great for a mom who does not have much time and this past year several of our MOPS moms went ahead and either received it as a gift from Mentor Moms or bought it.  Highly recommend.

Anyway, the reading for July 11 - because I'm late like that  - was this:

Worship Me Only.  Idolatry has always been the downfall of My people.  I make no secrets about being a jealous God.   Current idols are more subtle that ancient ones, because today's false gods are often outside the field of religion.  People, possessions, status, and self-aggrandizement are some of the popular deities today.  Beware of bowing down before these things.  False gods never satisfy; instead they stir up lust for more and more.  

When you seek Me instead of the world's idols, you experience My Joy and Peace.  These intangibles slake the thirst of your soul, providing deep satisfaction.  The glitter of the world is tinny and temporal.  The Light of My Presence is brilliant and everlasting.  Walk in the Light with Me.  Thus you become a beacon through whom others are drawn to Me.  

Her Scripture references are Exodus 20:4-5 and 2 Samuel 22:29

Wow.  Wow this hit me!!!  I DO worship my God and King.  I am a follower and lover of my Lord Jesus.  BUT I worship things!  People!  Feelings!

For instance, we have been trying to do a few home improvements each year.  I can not walk in a home improvement store - and really, into many peoples homes - without idolizing.  Kitchens, bathrooms, "outdoor living rooms"!!   This past year, we have been trying to make a dent on making over our yard.  We had some pine trees taken out, the backyard really cleaned up and in the front added some river rock and actual grass.  It hasn't grown in as lush as I was hoping, but what a difference from the treed dirt and sand patch we used to have!  But guess what - Young's words "False gods never satisfy; instead they stir up lust for more and more..." whoa.  I have been walking around the neighborhood and lusting over lush grass and beautiful landscaping...hydrangeas, japanese maples, nice fences!  I want it all.  So you see, I had something but wanted MORE.  I was grateful for what I had, but I wasn't satisfied.

How many daydreams have I had filled with taller ceilings, granite counter tops and new cupboards, and let's not forget hardwood flooring.   I could go on and on; I have written about my home lust before. What empty daydreams.  I am not saying it is wrong to do home improvements, not at all.  But when I lust over such things, and want more and more, that is worshipping things and not having my sight set on God.

It will be hard to tear myself away from backsplashes and moldings.  It hurts a bit to write that, but it's true.  I am going to consciously choose to think of different things, to think of things I know will bless me and my family.  Spend more time in prayer, more time in gratitude for what I have.  Instead of being in a friend's home and lovingly gazing at her ceiling high kitchen cupboards that aren't made out of particle board, I want to lovingly gaze at my friend.  Enjoy my time in her home, and be thankful to return to mine.  God has heaped blessings upon us in this house.  In my kitchen I may have to balance a few drawers on my knee so they don't fall out, but by my leg I have 2 precious girls wanting to help me cook, and dancing with me to the music playing.

I have renewed focus today.

Thank you God, for showing me what my eyes were set upon.  I want my eyes, my heart, my words, thoughts and my actions to be set on You, Lord God.  I want to walk in your Light, and have others see Your Light through me.  In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Monday, July 11, 2011

a good choice

My in-laws have season tickets to the Phillies, and so were given 4 tickets to something tonight called "Picnic at the Park."  The whole stadium was open for touring - plenty of photo ops, free food, balloons and face painting for kids, the works.  It was so much fun and a proud-to-be-a-Phillies-fan kind of night.

I almost didn't go.  But I'm so glad I did.  Before all you die-hard Phillies fans crucify me, forgive me, but this girlfriend is no die-hard fan.  Sure I like them, and a few of them are pretty to look at for sure.  I go to a couple games a season and I enjoy it - especially if it's not rainy or too hot.  Make that only if it's not rainy or too hot.  I go to games because my husband is a die-hard.  And by that I mean he'd tattoo Phillies across his chest before a picture of my face to be sure.  And tonight I went to this picnic thing because my daughters said "Puh-leaseeeee" and I'm a sucker for the drawn out please.  Kevin was going to take them with my father-in-law and I told myself it'd be a great bonding thing, I wasn't needed (as I would've been when the kids were more high maintenance) and I could get stuff done here.

I am so happy I went.  Kevin's dad went too, and it was fun seeing him enjoy the inside of the stadium.  He narrated what he was seeing into the video camera as he walked, which I always get a kick out of.  It was Taylor's first time at the stadium, and until she didn't like it at all (and turned very high maintenance and I was called to the front lines) she loved it.  She would've loved it the whole time except for the heat and crowd.  Bailey loved it too and although I know they both didn't get what we were seeing (the locker room, the dug out, home plate!!!) I think they somehow understood it was special to Kevin because they actually didn't fight me taking a million pictures of them with him.

*If I had a snazzy I-Phone, as I plan to have maybe for my birthday, there would be said picture here.*

*If you want to imagine it, it looks like this - 2 piggy-tailed girls in red heart sunglasses and Phillies jerseys.  Short shorts, Bailey in black, Taylor in white.  Tatie had a clip holding her bangs back, because we're growing them out.  2 clips actually, because Little One likes to be involved in any and all fashion decisions.  Bailey struck a pose in most pictures, until the heat got to her.  Kevin, in his Phillies shirt and Phillies cap, had a smile a mile wide.  You'd think he had just heard he won the lottery by his smile, but no, he's just standing among "his boys" lockers.*

I'm so glad I made a good choice.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

guilt, mommy style

I was just watching the Jaycee Dugard story on 20/20, and I am filled with many emotions.  But what is relatable most to me, happened at the end of the 2 hr show.

The morning that Jaycee was kidnapped - and then held prisoner for 18 yrs - her mom didn't kiss her good-bye bc for the 3rd morning in a row she was running late to work.  Can you just imagine, just for a second - because imagining this horror for any longer than a second is too long - living with that guilt all those years?  And really, she'll live with it for the rest of her life.  Even though she now has her daughter back, that will live with her, and she pleaded with parents at the end of the show to take a moment with your kids, it may be "inconvenient" but so important.

I take many moments with my girls.  But I could take more.  I could lay on the floor more to play or color, as I know they love.  I could just plain be silly...tonight I was acting crazy for no reason and the girls were really cracking up.  I don't act crazy that much, why don't I?  I could videotape more of Bailey's ballet improv and Taylor's take on Broadway musicals.  I tell the girls I love them all the time...but actions speak louder than words and I want to show them.  Leave them more notes on their pillows or hidden in their drawers - they love that.  More backrubs and lullies, not just at bedtime.  More reading, playing, projects.

I want nothing more in my life, absolutely nothing, than to feel success as a mother.  To feel that I have loved my girls with a fierceness and joy that they feel every day of their lives.  To instill values in them that I cherish, from God's Word, that they then come to cherish.  To have fun, to grow, to share life together and WANT to be with each other.

I am so blessed to have my babies.  Tomorrow I am going to make them their favorite breakfast (chocolate chip pancakes in shapes with hearts and their initials in whipped cream, well-done bacon for Bailey, yogurt for Tate) and sit at the table and tell them I missed them while they slept.  Really.  Of course, they'll probably bicker over who has the bigger whipped cream heart or Tate will be covering her nose and whining about the smell of the bacon, but I hope I can smile through it and remember how many moms in terrible situations only wish that they were listening to child-bickering over pancakes in a comfy home.

Motherhood is so crazy.  There are a million emotions, all in the same day.  Gratitude, yet impatience.  Joy, but anger.  Wanting your children to never grow up and away, and yet craving time alone to think for just one minute.  Enjoying the sounds of laughter and play, but asking for quiet PLEASE!  Holding them close, smelling that babyfresh skin and sweet smelling hair, and yet feeling like you can't have one more elbow or knee pressing into your stomach one more time.  You know what I mean moms?!

But the strongest emotion, that is always there,, thankfulness, joy, wonder.  And more love.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Back to the grind

We returned last night from vacation, and whoa are we back.  Not just back, but recuperating.   The girls and I were gone for almost 2 weeks, Kevin for one.  For the first week the girls and I stayed with my in-laws in Wildwood (they have a family friend who rents inexpensively to us every year) and then I came home for a day by myself and the next day Kevin and I met the girls and my in-laws in Williamsburg for the second week.  I love vacations, as do the girls and Kevin but it kind of takes it out of you, you know?  Vacationing as a family with young kids - although mine ARE getting older and easier for sure - and in-laws, even when you get along tiring.  We did have a wonderful time, lots of memories.

Today I had so many chores to do I couldn't see straight.  And true to form when I have so much to do...I didn't want to even start, so I slept in.  Plus I'm PMSing, which makes any emotion I have magnified, so there's that going on too.  The girls - especially Taylor, who really does best under routine - were nutty today.  I had to go to the grocery, in the pouring rain, because we were out of so many things, and of course the childcare was closed.  I specifically went to that ShopRite bc of the "fun play room" for the girls, so I could shop and concentrate on my coupons in peace, but bc a worker called out, they had to close it early.  Grrr.  So our shopping trip started out with 2 sulky girls - make that 3.

By aisle 3 Taylor was sick of it, and was acting out.  I told her to stand by the cart so a woman could get through, and she wouldn't.  The woman - an older, pissed-off-at-the-world-can't-remember-what-it's-like-to-have-kids kind of woman, said, "I heard your mommy tell you to stand by the cart, I have my listening ears on, do you?  You don't listen to your mom?" I said again to Taylor, "Tatie, stand by the cart."  To which Taylor screamed, "I'm not moving, MOM! You don't tell me what to do!!" So I physically moved her and took away her lollipop for talking to me rudely, which made her flip out more, growl at me (another time, my friends, I will talk more about the growling) and the woman murmured under her breath about my kid needing discipline.  UGH!  I HATE that.  HATE.  I can't stand when someone judges my kid - or me - when they don't even know us.   And I can't stand there, with my screaming, seemingly-bratty, kid and explain her life story and why she does the things she does.  I can't say, "Listen lady, this girl is amazing.  Sure right now she looks nasty, but she is majorly disappointed she's not playing in the fun room, like Mommy promised her she would be.  The fact that she made it 3 aisles before a meltdown when her senses and routine are being BLASTED is amazing!!!  This is the same girl who 3 years ago would hide her face in my pants as we walked into the grocery bc she couldn't stand all the sights, smells, sounds.  She is a lot stronger than you'll ever be, and I sure hope she doesn't grow up to look at a 5 yr old the way you just looked at her."

Ah, deep breath.  That felt good, getting that out.  The good news is, another lady behind us saw all of this, and in the next aisle - after an old man said "Don't you know there's no crying in ShopRite little girl?" (because Tate screamed her face off for at least 15 minutes) the nice woman said, "Kids are like us, we all have our bad days.." and gave a nice smile to me.  I immediately felt so much better.  Tate pulled it together around aisle 10, in the cat food aisle where she had to laugh at the bags and bags of litter for cat poop.

Basically, I can't stand feeling judged by my kid's behavior.  Does every thing they do reflect on me?  Sure, I want credit for the good stuff :)  But when they act bratty, why does that have to mean I'm a bad mother?  Or am I the one making that assumption, and reading too far into little comments or looks?  I definitely bring a lot of guilt on myself.  Just a few minutes ago on facebook, I read a question titled "How do you sneak veggies into your kids food?" from Scott and Kelly, hosts on the Christian radio station K-Love.  Well, of course in those hundreds of comments were so many, "Sneak?!  My kids eat their vegetables because we raised them to eat their food."  Just reading some of the comments made me want to cry.  My kids hate - HATE - veggies. They eat a lot of fruits now, and Bailey does love some foods that have veggies in them, like soup, but I never put a pile of peas let's say on my kids plates and they eat them.  Most nights at dinner we sit together at the table, and Kevin and I eat veggies and I offer, and sometimes make them try a bite, but my kids are not veg-eaters and over the years of crying, gagging, barfing, and me begging and bribing...I'm tired of it.  So over the last several months I have chilled out about veggies.  But reading comments like that, simplifying how easy it is for kids to eat veggies or implying it's within a parent's power, makes me feel like crap.

Well, I'm done I think with this little temper tantrum I just had.  Thanks for listening.  I guess this is just part of motherhood.  And I need to keep this all in perspective, anyway.  What do I care what some lady at the grocery thinks, or if someone would think I handle my kids veggie-eating all wrong.  My girls are physically healthy, and the only opinion that should matter is God's.  If Kevin and I are raising our children as we feel God wants us to - reading His word, following His commands...above all, loving each other - why would I waste my time thinking of other things?  In every instance, I should make decisions based on what I feel is right, answering only to God.  He gave me these precious girls, and I do pray that I raise them in His light, with His guidance, direction, love.  I make mistakes every day - just this morning I yelled at my kids, when really, I should have sat them down and talked to them.  Instead I yelled at them to pick up their toys or I would give them away to kids who would take care of them.  It was 2 seconds, but I felt bad afterwards.  I talked with them, and told them I was sorry I yelled.  I told them they were wrong to leave their beautiful dress-ups in heaps on the floor, and toys everywhere when they were done playing and in another room.  That's not a way to show care for your things.  But Mommy should not have responded that way, and can they forgive me.  They did and we moved on.

And guess what.  Before bed tonight, Taylor asked me - without leading this time, because earlier in the evening I had tried - to forgive her for disobeying and yelling at the store.  I hugged her tight and said I already had, and that tomorrow we will have a fun day. I said a little prayer in my head of thankfulness for forgiveness and lessons learned.  When I lay my head on my pillow tonight, I don't want to be thinking of some woman in the grocery.  I want to be thinking of what I can do tomorrow to show my kids I love them, and that God loves them, and I want to pray for strength and patience for another day.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

I actually completed something

Since 2007 I have been working on a Mother's Journal for my girls.  It is a book that has 12 chapters in it, labeled as the months of the year, and each chapter has several questions.  The mom writes her answers and it's meant to be something that her children could someday read.  Some are poignant, like "Tell me (meaning the child to whom you are writing) about the day I was born" and some are random, like "What is your favorite holiday tradition?"  I have answered questions here and if the kids were playing in the ChickFilA play area, I would do a few so I didn't pass out from boredom.  But it has taken me over 4 years to complete it -- a few days ago I answered the last question.  I am so happy to have done it, as I would have loved something like that from my own mom or grandma.  A few of the questions were really hard to answer, I saved them for last :)  I also had the girls answer a questionnaire I wrote (future blog post about that) and I enclosed that in there, along with a few of their drawings to me, too.

Not only am I pleased it is done, I am pleased I actually fulfilled a goal through to completion.  So often I flit from this to that, leaving things 1/2 done.  As I write this, the laundry is 1/2 done, the bed is 1/2 made, 1/2 the plants watered.  I just get distracted - or bored - so easily, that I leave what I am doing for later.  I do the same with my bigger goals...and I really want to work on that.  It feels awesome to finish something!!

So for the summer I have decided that I need to block off weeks at a time to work towards specific goals.  In July I want to spend 2 weeks organizing, labeling and albuming my thousands of pictures I am behind on.  Yes I am totally old school and I get all my pics developed and then I put them in those slip-in memo albums.  Someday we will have to buy a shed to live in out back, because the kids art creations and these picture albums will overtake my house.  Anyway, also for July I need to organize my paperwork.  Receipts, bills, insurance statements, etc etc etc...ugh I dread it.  I am planning on paying the children to shred a million pieces of paper.  I will give them each $5, and they will think they won the lottery.  I never pay that much.

August will be MOPS planning and back to school stuff like organizing closets, shopping.  September will be checking myself into the loony bin once Tate starts full time school.  Ok kidding but not really.  September will also be CF walk fundraising work.

It feels more manageable breaking my goals up into blocks of time, we'll see if my ADD can take it.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Suck it in and stick it out

It's happened just as I expected it would...swimsuit season is here.  I'm knee deep in it.  I have not enjoyed the look of myself in a suit...well, ever.  That feeling has magnified - along with the size of my ass - over the years.  But when I had children I swore I would ditch my issues and get in a suit bc I wanted them to love the water.  I really love swimming - ocean, pool, waterpark, lake whatever.  I just hate being so vulnerable in something that is but a few yards of fabric over my stretched-marked birthday suit.

Every year at the end of swim season I breath a sigh of relief and then promise myself that next season, I'll have lost tons of weight and won't mind parading myself around at the pool.  It sucks when you promise yourself something and don't deliver.  But I have to remind myself, that if I was talking to my daughters, or a friend, about how they feel like something like this, I would encourage and not want them to berate themselves so.  I should treat myself as I would treat others, no?

So today at the pool, I really enjoyed playing with my girls.  We were there for hours, and swam, jumped, was a blast.  I would have missed out on it if I was sitting in a chair.  Walking by the few moms I know from the neighborhood wasn't my favorite part of the day...but I sucked it in, pulled my skirt down a bit (are you picturing it?  yes, it's a bathing suit like your grammy has) and held my head high.  I may not be the prettiest or thinnest, but my kids had fun with me.

I'm glad I'm sticking to at least one of my promises - wearing a bathing suit.  Perhaps one of these days I'll stick to the other, and enjoy a swim season without the stress of wondering how many ripples of thigh cellulite there are peeking out from my skirt.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Summer goals

These are a few of the things I want to do this summer:

*Catch up on my picture albums and labeling

*Make my mom a scrapbook of her wedding and honeymoon

*Sell the TUMI $500 giftcard we've had for over a year that we'll never use.

*Finish the couponing class business plan

*MOPS planning for 2011-2012 year.  Retreat in August.

*Touch up paint on baseboards/doors

*Clean out my closet and underbed

*Set up a scrapbooking station in the garage

Not to mention enjoy the girls and do lots and lots of fun stuff :)

Bad attitude

I am in a bad mood.  The top 5 reasons for my bad mood are -

*The children have really greasy hair bc my dear FIL was the one who gave them their bath after the pool last night.   I'm not sure where it went wrong, but their locks are seriously sad.  I don't know why it's bothering me, but it is.

*I checked my credit card activity and it depressed the *#%! out of me.  And now today Kevin's car is going in for the this next bill is going to hurt deep.

*My house feels like it's closing in on me with dirty clothes, wet towels, tons of art projects from their year at school that I haven't had the momentum to go through yet, dirty sheets and the regular dirt, dust, cobwebs and grime.

*Upon looking at myself in the mirror this morning with one eye peeked open (it's like when you watch a scary movie.  It's easier that way.) I surmised that my hair needs serious work.  Because of the cars bleeding us dry - and the kids expecting to eat, and who are we kidding, have money for the boardwalk -  it will have to wait.   I have a new appreciation for how happy my mom was when she would get her hair done a few times a year.  It feels awesome when you can finally go.

*I'm in a bad mood and I shouldn't be.  Which makes me feel worse.

Are you ever in a bad mood for no good reason, you're just POed and you can't shake it?

I'm going to have some coffee, get dressed, throw a load in and make a list of chores my kids can help with.  Happy Wednesday everyone!