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.