Saturday, September 14, 2013

Am I keeping up?

For the past few years I've had the honor and privilege of calling myself a "soccer mom".  

My oldest daughter has found a love of soccer and my younger two are trying(Valiantly) to follow in their sister's footsteps.  So more often than not, during the weekends during the school year, I can be found on the sidelines of the soccer field.

And in the beginning...when my daughter was five, the games were...well, comical. They were less like games and more like controlled chaos. The girls played on a short field with maybe four players on each team, and no goalies.  There was no score. There was really just a lot of chasing the ball. All of them. In a pack like wild dogs.
This was all to teach the fundamentals of the game. Perfect.

As my oldest has gotten a little older, the field length has gotten longer, the girls actually hold their positions on the field(Somewhat) and there are goalies(even though they look like these teeny tiny breakable dolls in front of these HUGE nets) .  Perfect.

It all started out so cute and fun...and actually kind of nice to spend my Saturdays watching my girls play and learn a game. 

So last the beginning of second grade the practice/games went from once a week, to twice a week.  Ok, no biggie.  But there was also an option to add two extra days to sharpen skills and play more games.  And I bought into it for a while.  Sure... give her those two extra days... for a few hours each day. Why not? She loves it. 

Second grade. Seven years old....Four days a week of soccer?
I mean, there are only seven days in the week, right? So FOUR of them were spent playing soccer.

Let me say it again...SHE. WAS. SEVEN.

I can't stress that enough here.

So here I was, signing her up for these extra days...thinking...
"Great, she'll sharpen her skills... she'll become a better player... blah blah blah blah blah" 
Was I serious?

I mean, she's a child. A baby, really. 

Why should she be sharpening her skills when she's really just learning the fundamentals of the game still and trying to find out if this is something she really LIKES and wants to pursue?

That point got kind of lost.  
And I think it's gotten lost on a LOT of these "Soccer parents" (You can really put any sport/hobby in there instead of soccer... it applies to anything, really)

We get so caught up in...well, KEEPING up... that we're talked into signing up for more... and we push push push...and for what?

To have our kids burn out at age eight and tell us, "Yea, ya know what?! I don't really like soccer anyway." 

I just don't get it.
Where we live... it seems that the trend is that you have to start your child in a sport or activity by the age of three or he/she will be BEHIND. 
Are you kidding me right now?

There are SO many sports and activities my kids would like to try, but heck, I don't have time to sign them up for them all NOW. 
So I get sort of frantic thinking...
"Holy crap... if they don't start now...find their passion RIGHT NOW... they'll be so far behind, they'll never be as good as the other kids... they'll miss out on so much"

And I've come to realize that really? I'm being a freak.  And there are a lot of other freaks out there just like me .... freaking out about the same damn thing! 

And it's not our fault... it's like a wave... it knocks us down.
We get so swept up in keeping up and trying to do what's best for our kids that we forget what's actually BEST FOR OUR KIDS!!!

My girls want to try new things... art classes? Sure! Tennis? Maybe! Basketball? Yup! And the list goes on and on.  They're 8 and 6... they're babies. They have time. PLENTY OF TIME.

But as parents, it seems like we're constantly being pushed to sign them up for more... sharpen their skills... get them ready for the next level.  The next level? But what about THIS level?   How about we look at THIS level and hope the kids are having fun and learning something new and if they're good, well that's just an added bonus.  I mean, right?

But is this what it has come to? It's like we're already prepping them for college... a scholarship, maybe(Because frankly, who the hell can afford college anymore?) ...    But it seems less like a recreational activity for them and more like WORK.
And as we all know... there is plenty of time for work later in life, but for kids? Their time is so short to just be a kid and do what they like! LETS LET THEM BE KIDS!!!

I mean, don't get me wrong... if my daughter begged me to play soccer four days a week, telling me she didn't want to do anything else... I'd sign her up.  I really do want her to be happy.

But when I ask her if she wants to play extra days and her response is "maybe" instead of "YES, YES, YES!"... isn't that a sign that maybe it's time to introduce her to something else?
Open a door to something that may pique her interest more?

I don't know... maybe everyone else has figured this out ahead of me, but from what I've seen, I don't think so. 

I've seen the panicked look of the mom who just signed her daughter up for soccer for the first time at age eight...wondering if she'll be the black sheep because all the other kids started when they were three.  

I mean, that's sad, really. 

At eight years old you're still figuring out what you like and what you don't, right? You shouldn't be an expert in your field at that age.

I mean, I'm in my mid-30's and I'M still figuring out what I like... I'm certainly not an expert at... well, ....anything.

Heck, maybe I'll give soccer a try.. ;)


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Things I've learned 15 days into summer vacation


The last day of school was on June 26th.
That's 15 days that I've been with all four of my kids nearly around the clock.

And although I seem to have lost a bit of my sanity... I have definitely learned a few things in a very short period of time. 

Lucky for you, I get to share what I now know.

1. No matter the time of day or even if they've just eaten a 12 course meal, my kids are always hungry.  Like brought to tears, "Hunnnngrrrrrrry"

2. Cleaning up the kitchen and keeping it clean for more than 10 minutes is a pipe dream

3. There is "NOTHING" to do at my house. EVER.

4. I never have enough scotch tape

5. I should've bought stock in scotch tape

6. Laundry is a joke especially when my kids put on clothes, then bathing suits, then a new set of clothes, then a new bathing suit and at the end of the day throw it all in a wet pile on the floor of the laundry room.
Don't EVEN get me started on towels.

7. No matter how well you rinse off limbs, empty out shoes, brush off clothes, shake out hair...
sand still gets EVERYWHERE

8. There is one tattle tale in every group and tattle tales are REALLY annoying.

9. My oldest daughter thinks she is the boss of everyone.... including me.

10. Having a baby that naps and three other children stuck at home while the baby naps could possibly warrant a trip to an insane asylum OR an emergency room.  Either one.

11. My husband's, "very little TV this summer" rule is laughable.  The person who does not stay home all day should not be allowed to have a say-so in any rules. Period.

12. Getting ready for the beach definitely takes longer than getting ready to play in the snow. 
At this point in the game, snow is a clear winner.  At least in the snow my kids are 100% covered and NOT by sunscreen ....ANNNNNNND I'm not afraid of them drowning or getting eaten by a shark

13. Inside voices are like unicorns... they don't exist.

14. Grilling is old... and has been since June ...of 2007

15.  Bees cause PTSD. 
Day one of summer(Literally off the bus from the last day of school) there was a bee sting incident.  "We" now see bees EVERYWHERE and feel the need to sprint from the house to the car in order to avoid being stung.

16. "But it's not even dark out!" is not a good enough reason to stay up later. 
Note for next summer: Black out shades.  For the entire house.

17.  The one who says, "I didn't do ANYTHING" has always done SOMETHING.

18. I need to actually learn how to take a door off the hinges. 

19.  Just because it's summer vacation, doesn't mean that real life ceases to exist.
Laundry still has to be done, groceries bought, dinners cooked, bathrooms cleaned...all with children in tow.
It's like taking the physical challenge on Double Dare. Honestly, I'd rather stick my arm up that giant nostril to pull out the boogery red flag  than go to the grocery store with my four kids.

Being the fun, "yes" mom I thought I'd be this summer is proving to be a lot more difficult than I initially thought.

Just today I contemplated drinking at lunch time and I just heard myself saying,

"For every time I have to come downstairs because you three are fighting, you'll all go to bed 15 minutes earlier"
At the rate we're going ... they'll be in bed in the next five minutes.  (Which might not be a bad thing)

Gotta run(and possibly hide).... I just heard, "I'M TELLING MOMMY!!"

Oh....There's no need to tell mommy...she already heard the entire thing... those inside "unicorn" voices are a dream.  :)

Peace, Love & RIGHT NOW

Thursday, May 23, 2013

...and we'll go up, up, up....

So, if you saw the Zach Sobiech story on facebook recently... you've probably been feeling like I have these past few days...pretty emotional, inspired, and honestly... down right sad.

If you haven't seen the Zach Sobiech story... you can watch it here... My Last Days: Zach Sobiech

Basically, here is the long and short of it.

At 14 years old, Zach was diagnosed with osteosarcoma... he battled it for a few years... it came back and he was given a few months to live.
Zach chose to stop treatment and spend the last few months of his life LIVING and not dying. 
Zach created music.... beautiful music. Zach loved his friends. Zach loved his family. Zach loved life.

Zach died on May 20, 2013. He was 18 years old.

I did not know on Monday morning when I watched Zach's story that I'd be so moved, so inspired, so touched and so heartbroken.

I did not know that when I clicked on the link to the video that I would be watching a story that was so, so similar to a story that I already knew by heart.

If you've read my blog or know me personally, you know that I lost my brother to Ewings Sarcoma.  
2 years, 7 months and 1 day ago. 
He was 2 weeks shy of his 26th birthday.

He, like Zach, battled cancer for a few years, endured surgeries, chemo, radiation...spent about 9 months cancer free and then it returned... in his lungs.

 He then spent another 10 months doing more chemo as a maintenance type program. 

Two weeks of chemo, two week break, two weeks of chemo, two week break... and he was miserable. For two weeks of every month, he didn't move from the couch.
He was ill. 
And we knew that the treatments weren't a cure... they were just buying him time. 
So he made the decision to stop treating...And start living with what little time he had left.

He had almost a whole summer before the cancer took over.

And watching Zach's video brought it all back for me. 

Everything about Zach and his family was so strangely similar to my brother and my family.
I could literally do nothing but cry when I watched. 
And then I watched it again. And cried some more.

And should I be embarassed to admit that I watched it again?

I couldn't help it. I was transfixed.

It was like I couldn't get enough of Zach or his family.

Because in a way they were MY family.
He was my brother. His sister was me. His mother was mine.

Watching the video... you could feel the strength, the courage, the love.
I was moved by their grace. 
I was heartbroken by their sadness.

In watching Zach's story NUMEROUS times, I felt that familiar feeling of trying to find the happiness through the sadness during my brother's last few months... trying to savor the moments -the touching little moments....
the sound of my brother's voice as he teased my girls, his boisterous laugh... the funny faces he made when telling a story... his walk... his scent.  

There was this ever present feeling in those last few months that time was slipping away... too quickly.

While we were trying to make memories and enjoy what time we had left...we were ever aware that our time with my brother was like sand slipping through our fingers... there was no holding on to it. 

All we could do was maintain and breathe. And love. And laugh and cry. And live.

And watching Zach and his family, it all came back.
That feeling of, "Hold on. I don't want this to end yet. PLEASE don't let this moment end"

And it broke my heart all over again.

And you'd think that maybe I'd avoid watching stories like Zach's... to spare myself the heartache.

But actually, I'm grateful to have seen it.

It opened my eyes.

Because in the past 2 years, 7 months and 1 day... while I've been healing,
I think a part of me had closed off to really feeling..really living.
I've tried to forget because it hurt too much to remember.

I just forged ahead.. .pushed through and looked forward, but in that... I lost a lot.

In the three years that my brother was fighting cancer, my family learned to cherish the little moments and let a lot of unimportant things go.

We really enjoyed each other's company and savored all the tiny moments because that's all we had.
Happy or sad...all we had were those moments. 
And together, we lived day to day... moment to moment... until the end.

So while cancer took my precious brother... it DID give us the ability to live in the moment.

And I think I've lost that.

I've lost the ability to just be here now and breathe and live.
I've lost the ability to savor the day I've been given.

And really... isn't that all we can ever do? Live the day that we've been given?
ALL of our time is limited here.
There is a cap to all of this... and for some it's much sooner than others. 
And we don't know when our time is up.

And that's crazy to think about. But it's also kind of a relief.

Like someone taking a weight off your shoulders saying,

"Hey, stupid! Let it go! Live right now! How do you feel RIGHT NOW? Forget next week!"

And I needed that.

I needed to be reminded of that by Zach and his family... by my own brother and my family.

We all have the ability to live in the now, we just need a reminder now and again.

And sometimes it's a painful reminder... sometimes it literally hurts. 

But I'm grateful. 

I'm grateful for these past few emotional days spent in a fog.

I'm grateful that I've been reminded that I have a lot of love to give now... that I have a lot of life to live now...that I have a lot of emotions to feel now... and that ALL of our time is here is limited with our without a terminal illness.

I'm grateful for the Sobiech family for sharing their story and their courage, and for the gift they've given me...reminding me to live...all day...every day...for as long as I'm here.

Rest Easy, Zach Sobiech.

Peace, Love & RIGHT NOW

And we'll go up, up up.....
But I’ll fly a little higher
We’ll go up in the clouds because the view is a little nicer
Up here my dear
It won’t be long now, it won’t be long now
If only I had a little bit more time
If only I had a little bit more time with you....

Thursday, May 9, 2013

So this is marriage....

11 years ago this coming Sunday, I met my husband.

It was Mother's Day.     It was also his 27th birthday.

We met on the side of the road....literally.

I wasn't hitchhiking(nor was he). 
My car wasn't broken down.  No, it was nothing like that.

The short story is...
He waved, I waved.
He stopped, I stopped.

We went out that night and that was the end of that..... or the beginning, rather.

11 years. 

When he proposed I thought our married life together would be as easy as our brief 7 months of dating had been.
Yes, you read that correctly.

We dated, excuse me, KNEW each other for 7 months prior to getting engaged.

So I guess what I pictured was a stress free life...  living together... sleeping in on Saturdays, Saturday night dinners out with too much wine and after-dinner beers at the local pub, slightly hungover Sundays spent at our condo complex's pool. 
I pictured working out at the gym together or going for long runs just the two of us.
I pictured vacations together as a couple, trips to places we'd never been... jobs where we made enough money to cover our expenses and put some money away for the future... and life would be easy breezy, lemon squeezey.

And I think we had that for maybe... a year.
ONE year.
One year of our marriage was exactly like the above. 

And then real life set in with multiple babies, job changes, out of state moves, deaths in the family, layoffs, etc. etc. etc.

What's funny...or really NOT funny is ... no one EVER tells you that marriage is hard.
No one tells you that marriage is WORK.
It's a full time job on top of the full time job you already have.

While you're trying to make your way through life and raise children and work a job and keep a house and do day to day things... you still have this relationship that you have to maintain and foster... you still have to remember to communicate and love and laugh.

Marriage puts a whole new spin on things.
When life throws you a curveball... and something unexpected comes your way,  not only do you have to navigate your way through it, but you have to navigate your way through it WITH someone else.

And you think that would make it easier..... but sometimes it's not.

It's really like one giant road trip. 

Sounds fun, but if you're anything like us...

He's driving... and I'm in the passenger seat holding the "oh shit" handle, slamming on my imaginary brake and cursing under my breath.. praying we don't die.

And sometimes that's how marriage is. 

There is no instruction manual. 
There is no, "When situation A. arises, try XYZ and if that doesn't work... try QRS"

And you know what?
Sometimes you encounter some tough stuff.
And sometimes it's TOTAL crap.
And sometimes life hands you a LOT of lemons...and you're so SICK of making just wish that life would just hand you the bottle of vodka so you can squeeze those damn lemons into something with a little kick.

And you put your head down, and you grit your teeth and you get through it.
Sometimes you get through it separately, but together.
If THAT even makes sense.  

And sometimes you come out on the other side of a MAJOR challenge and you think,

 "We survived that. I REALLY didn't think we'd survive that."

But you know what? 

It's all worth it.
It is.

And it can be easy...  really easy for us, especially during a difficult time to look back on these past 11 years and see ONLY the challenges... the struggles... the stress and completely disregard the good.

And it can be really easy to count...even list the things that have gone "wrong" for us.

But it's still worth it. 

Because the good outweighs the bad.  And love always wins.

And marriage means you have this person by your side who is going to have your back for the rest of your life.

And this person is the one who knows you the best, has seen you at your worst and STILL tolerates you with all of your imperfections and annoying habits(yes, you have them too)

This person is the only one who knows what it's like to be as tired as you are because you've both been up all night with a puking kid or a crying baby. 

This is the person who knows what its like to laugh through the dinnertime antics with you or Sunday morning pancake breakfasts(with the chocolate chips and NOT syrup even though you think chocolate chips don't belong anywhere NEAR a pancake)

This person can finish your sentences and knows what you're thinking without you having to say a word.

This person will bring home cookies from the store even when you tell him not to(but really want him to and he knows it)
This person will take YOUR college cat to the vet to be put down because you're too panicked and heartbroken to do it.

This is what marriage is...with its challenges, uphill battles and stress and "oh shit" handles and imaginary brakes... and this is what is good.

This is what is good.

Peace, Love & RIGHT NOW

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Does anyone know where the right side of the bed is?

I remember as a kid, if I woke up in a bad mood... my mother would say to me,

"Looks like someone got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning!" 

I hated hearing that.
It's an expression that never really made any sense to me. 
I only knew it meant I was being teased for being grumpy in the morning.

Getting up on the wrong side of the bed back then was perfectly OK.
I was in a foul mood.
It was accepted. 
My family ignored me and went about their business and I got over my mood in my own time...and all was ok in the world of Kristen once again.

As a parent...getting up on the wrong side of the bed is like TOOOoooTALLY unacceptable.

There is no such thing as everyone ignoring you... letting you get over your mood and moving on with your day.
You have to SUCK. IT. UP.
Grin and bear it.
Put your big girl panties on and get over it... like NOW.

Well, many recent mornings, I've gotten up on the wrong side of the bed.

And that would be due to the fact that I'm not even really sure I sleep some nights. 
Some nights I'm up and out of bed so many times... I don't have time to sleep.
Im seriously starting to doubt the existence of the RIGHT side of the bed.

And I've come to realize (in my lack of sleep stupor)... kids don't "get" social cues.

There are mornings when it's CLEAR that I'm barely awake.

And what's even more clear is that I'm NOT happy about it.

Any adult would see those things in my face and leave me alone.
Kids? Not so much.

Every day at my house starts with what I like to call, "The morning marathon." 

Who wants what cereal? who needs juice?... who is bringing what for a snack to school?...

"Mom, can I buy lunch today? PLEASE? It's pizza and I really, really, REALLY love the school's pizza"..(really? It's cardboard) ....

"MOM! She's not sharing her stickers with me... and Sophia gave those stickers to BOTH of us!!! MOM!!!"

And the talking, chatting, arguing, questions, singing....all continue through the morning marathon.

And all I can think on those "wrong side bed" mornings is,
"Please. For the love of GOD.  I need more coffee ...and I need silence..  I need to hide somewhere because I cant take this insanity!!!"

And then the hair brush comes out.... "Mom, can you brush my hair???"
In my head... I'm thinking...
"Can't you brush your own hair?"
And I KNOW the exasperated look on my face said exactly that.

And then another voice in my head says;
"You should be cherishing this moment. She won't ask you to brush her hair for forever"...and...
"Be thankful she HAS hair!"... and then... "Be thankful she's HERE."

It sets in.  In those moments my guilt takes over and all I want to do is cry.

What kind of terrible person...NO, what kind of terrible MOTHER am I?

I should be counting my blessings...cherishing the moments.... EVERY. SINGLE. ONE.

And when I don't? Guilt takes over...and I'm covered for the rest of the day in a shroud of it.
Guilt hanging over me like a black cloud.

I'm not 100% certain, but I'm fairly sure that most moms carry around the very same guilt.
Maybe it's not in the forefront of their minds at all times, but it's there. It's hiding ... lurking somewhere...waiting to come out.

We're all trying SO hard to be these super moms...
These loving and patient and kind and caring and wonderful mothers...24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

But we're worn out and tired and exasperated and run ragged. 

And we feel guilty on top of it all for not feeling our gratitude all of the time and cherishing each moment... And really?? IT'S TOUGH!

For the most part we probably all succeed at doing what is right and what is good for our children ...keeping them safe and secure and loved.  Absolutely.

But it's a challenge to remember to cherish the little moments in between refereeing arguments and packing back packs and pouring cereal and cleaning up spilled juice. 
Especially when there's that piece of you that's needing a moment to be by yourself...and to just BE yourself...bad mood and all.

And there's a piece that maybe just needs to take a step back or TWELVE steps back and take a breather and get some space because it's overwhelming...always putting everyone else's needs first.

And it's overwhelming feeling guilty for WANTING to take a break, for wanting to go back to bed, for wanting to shut off the noise in your house for a while and let someone else handle the breakfasts and the hair brushing.  And for not cherishing it all. 

I am so VERY grateful for all that I have. 
So very, VERY blessed to have four healthy and happy children. 
I know this in my heart 100% of the time.   

On mornings when I'm struggling to keep my eyes open and not tell my kids to get their own darn breakfast... it's hard to keep that in my head.

And that's ok.  I mean, it is, right?

Perhaps I need to cut myself some slack and quiet that guilty little voice in my head....
Perhaps we all do.

Some days it's a challenge just to get out of my own way.
Some days it's a challenge just to be ME, but then to try and be a patient, kind, loving, grateful, blessings-counting Mom - maybe on those days... it's a bit too much to expect of myself.

Maybe on the days when I "get up on the wrong side of the bed",  I can just try to BE and DO. 
I'll BE Mom who packs the backpacks, and waits for the bus and reties shoelaces 100 times... feeling grumpy, worn out, tired and a little exasperated. 
I'll DO my best to just get through the day and NOT have a meltdown. 
I'll DO A-OK with keeping my kids safe and secure and loved(but maybe lack a little in the patience department) 

and that IS ok!

On those days maybe I'll just need to remind myself to start fresh again tomorrow... to drop-kick the guilt ...that it's ok to be tired and grumpy sometimes and everyone has that right ....even moms!

And at the end of those days... when the dishes are done and the laundry is folded and the day has been put behind me..
I'll peak in on my sleeping kids and will count my many blessings.... smile at their little sweet faces... wonder over how lucky I am to have them in my life....and that will be ok...
In fact, that will be BETTER than ok...THAT will be wonderful.

Peace, Love and RIGHT NOW

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A difference...

Today I've decided that I will share a quick story...
In 2008 I ran the NYC marathon.
I ran it again in 2009 and 2010 too.
I ran the marathon in honor of my younger brother who was diagnosed at the age of 23 with a rare pediatric cancer called Ewing's Sarcoma. 
I ran to raise funds for pediatric cancer research.

But this story isn't about my brother. This story isn't even about me, really.

This story is about a woman I "met" at the end of the marathon in 2010.
I put the word "met" in quotes because I didn't even really MEET her.
I don't know her name... Or even really remember what she looked like.

But I remember how she made me feel.

Two weeks prior to the marathon on October 22, 2010, my brother lost his battle to cancer.
On November 7th, just two weeks later, I ran the marathon on what would have been his 26th birthday.

If you look back at pictures of that marathon... they captured an amazing day with tons and tons of friends and family throughout New York City supporting me during my run.
Every photo showed a confident, steady smile on my face. Some of the pictures even looked like I was having fun.

The pictures didn't really tell the whole story. 

In the days leading up to November 7th I was in panic mode.
Grief and panic. I knew them both intimately.

After the draining weeks leading up to my brother's death and the grief that consumed me afterward... I had no idea if I would physically or emotionally be able to run this marathon.
In fact, I was SURE I couldn't.

But how could I not? This marathon along with the two previous marathons were FOR my brother.
After his death, didn't I owe it to him to run it? Of course I did.

So I ran.
It was HARD.
I wouldn't allow myself think about my brother or much of anything while I ran because I was afraid I'd break down.. that I'd have a panic attack or just lose it halfway through the run and stop...and not be able to start again.

I NEEDED to finish. That was all I needed to do.
So I ran and ran... and I finished.
I crossed the finish line.

As I walked past the finish area I was met by a small woman.
She was a race volunteer and she was there to escort me to pick up my after-race belongings.  
She started with small talk... or what she thought would be small talk.

She congratulated me for finishing... and then she asked me how the race was.
I looked at her through tear filled eyes and choked out the words,
"It was hard."

She said, "Hard?? Oh, you had a bad race?"

I said, "No, my brother died of cancer two weeks ago and today would've been his 26th birthday."

She looked at me in shock because I'm sure this was the last thing she was anticipating.

And then she hugged me.
She hugged me hard.

I couldn't control the tears that came. It was like I had held them in for 26 miles and she was there to see them all. 
She practically held me up.
She walked me to a chair and helped me find my bag.
She got me a gatorade and a bag of chips. The entire exchange between us lasted maybe ten minutes.

I don't remember many details... like her face or the color of her hair.
But what I DO remember was the kindess she extended to me.

She could've easily mumbled, "I'm sorry for your loss", handed me my bag and turned to help another finisher, but she didn't.
She wrapped her arms around me...a complete stranger ...crying... sweaty (and probably smelly after 26.2miles) ... and she hugged me.

So what's my point?

My point is...that one woman... made a huge impact on me during a pretty difficult time.

I think of that marathon day now, two years later. 
Much of it I can recall only from looking at the the pictures that were taken...everything a blur...
and yet, I can remember CLEARLY the comfort and compassion that was given to me by a total stranger.

And I've realized, it's really the little things in this life that make a big difference, isn't it?

The large things like feeding the hungry...sheltering the homeless... those things seem overwhelming and yes, they are. One single person is not capable of  accomplishing such huge, monumental tasks alone.

But starting small... one person CAN make a difference.
Something as simple as holding a door with a smile... lending a hand to someone struggling... making a meal for a neighbor...and yes, hugging someone who is hurting...  all those little things CAN make a huge impact.
And those are all things that ALL of us are capable of doing.

"At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel"

So what are we waiting for??  Let's start now! Pass it on... pay it forward.... Make a difference!

Peace, Love & RIGHT NOW

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


It's been almost a month since my last post... I've been having a bit of trouble coming up with subjects to write about. 
Or maybe it's not lack of subjects... maybe it's lack of motivation to sit and write... or lack of attention.
I'll sit, but then.. oops! Something else grabs my attention. 
Or... If I get an extended amount of time to sit and write... it's NOT an extended amount of time before I sit and fall asleep. Who knows?


So this week we've been battling the stomach bug.
Battling is a joke... battling makes it sound like it's a fair fight.  When it comes to the stomach bug, nothing is fair... no one stands a chance... The stomach bug always wins.  I know people say love always wins... well, in a fight between love and the stomach bug?

Sorry love, prepare to have your butt handed to you(literally).

It's this time of year... Mid-march... the end of winter/early spring when the germs have festered so long... It's this time that I want to spray my children with bleach when they walk in the door after school.
I knew it wouldn't be long before we got hit. We were spared last year. Not so lucky this year.

I try to be so diligent.
I have hand sanitizer in my car, one attached to each kid's backpack and one in each of their lunch boxes.
You know that scene in the movie, "Almost Famous" where the mom yells to her son at school,
"Don't take drugs!"???

That's me... except I yell,
"Don't touch your face! Keep your hands out of your mouth! Use your hand sanitizer!"

My kids think I'm nuts.  
They get off the bus from school... and the first thing they must do when they get in the house is wash their hands...and if I don't think they've washed for long enough... I send them back in to wash again.
I want those hands so clean they could perform surgery if they had to.
Excessive, I know.
Annnnnnd....clearly none of that worked.

The first victim was hit on Thursday night at 11:30.
Just as I was falling into a deep sleep I was woken up by a twin telling me her sister had thrown up in her bed. 

As my feet were hitting the floor out of bed I was chanting in my head,

 "Please be a fluke. Please be fluke. Please be a fluke" knowing deep down..this was no fluke and we were all in for the long haul.

I spent all of Friday bleaching, lysoling, washing, cleaning, scrubbing, disinfecting...and for what?!?


I was the next one hit on Sunday. Woke up feeling yuck.
Ignored it... went for a run... went to church... halfway through church I thought...
"This is it... I'm going down."
Got home and was in bed all day. Well, in bed AND the bathroom.

I have to say... being sequestered to my room and watching the husband handle the kids from afar all day was quite nice(as well as entertaining!), although, I could've done without the throwing up.

The Hallmark channel kept me company... and I SWEAR, they just recycle the same actors for every movie.  Jason London? Come on. You're better than that, dude.

After me, it was like toy soldiers. Next one Monday... then another Monday night. 
I swear even our cat has some sort of bug.  I actually resorted to wiping her down with a clorox wipe.  Please don't call the humane society on me. Desperate times call for desperate measures!

Currently, there are two left standing in the house... the hubs and the oldest. 
Every night, the oldest looks like she's being sent to the electric chair as she walks down the hall to bed. She's filled with dread that she is going to be the next victim.  Can't say I blame her.
The waiting is the worst part!  And the not knowing WHEN... is terrible.

Will it be the middle of the night? On the bus?  At school??
I mean... at school? awful.

I think every adult has a story about how that "one kid" in elementary school threw up in the middle of the classroom or walking down the hall on the way to the nurse.... Ugh.

Who really wants to be that one kid remembered for THAT!? 
(seriously, try and tell me you don't remember that kid's name... EVERYONE remembers that kid's name!)

And as a mom... the waiting is absolutely the worst part.
I go to sleep every night thinking...
"Please let me get a full night sleep tonight. Please don't let another one get hit and have to start the sheets changing, laundry, disinfecting cycle all over again. PLEASE!"

It would be easier if we all got it at the same time. Like the chicken pox!
When we were little, our parents actually exposed us to the pox on purpose!!!
"Billy down the street has it...go down and get it. Get it over with!"

Maybe I'll start doing that with the stomach bug.
"Hurry up! your sister just puked... brush your teeth with her toothbrush! Drink out of her cup!

Instead ... this bug takes it's time... lingering... waiting for it's next victim... not knowing when or where....

And I know...with four kids, I should expect this.
Kids are germy.
They bring home every ailment known to man...

Stomach bug, pink eye, coxsacky (REALLY? Couldn't have come up with a better name for that one?)

Never heard of coxsacky until my kids got it.
The doctor said, "She has coxsacky" and I literally said, "Excuse me, what?!"
Kids are gross!

Honestly, I don't know how Michelle Duggar does it. She has what, 18, 19 ... 25 kids??(I've lost track)
What happens when the stomach bug hits them? It must be like an epidemic up in that house.
 And the laundry? I can't even imagine the laundry.

Oh wait, but she home schools her kids... so they probably aren't introduced to all those outside germs.

Home school.

Food for thought?

I don't think so.

So, for now... we wait.
And disinfect.
And continue on through the piles of laundry that have taken over the laundry room.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

And so I run...

Someone asked me the other day if I was still running.

And by the way, when I say the other day, it could mean two days ago or two months ago... or even almost a year ago. 
Everything seems like just the other day to me.

Anyway... am I still running? 
I told my husband I was asked this question and we both laughed a little.

I said, "Asking me if I'm still running is like asking me if I'm still breathing.  Imagine if I didn't run?
 I'd lose my marbles!"
His very dry response, "WE ALL WOULD."

And he's right.

Growing up, I hated running.
I was never one to run. Ever.

I didn't want to play soccer growing up. Why? Because I didn't like to run.
Absolutely. Hated. It.

Instead, I danced. 
I spent most nights during the week from middle school through high school at a small dance school where I practiced ballet, tap and jazz... where I stretched and sweated and laughed and had was my home away from home... it was what I loved.

After I graduated high school, I went to college and I stopped dancing. 
I just stopped. And no exaggeration... I think a little part of my soul died.

It's not like I was this professional dancer or I was ever going to have a career in dancing.
Not in the slightest.
Hell, maybe I wasn't even GOOD. (ok, I was a little bit good)
But I spent so much time in my life dancing and then to just up and stop, cold turkey... holy crap.
It was intense.
And I really lost a little part of myself.

I no longer got that "me" time...where I didn't think... where I just moved and counted and breathed... focusing  not on me, but on ME.
I know, that really makes no sense.
But when I was dancing... I wasn't thinking about school or school work, or my friend who was mad at me... or the HUGE MONUMENTAL fight (isn't everything HUGE and MONUMENTAL in high school?) I had with my boyfriend... it all went away... and my mind was clear and all was good for a while.

So when I lost dance... I needed to find something else.
And I don't even know how it happened, really.
I found running. 
Or maybe running found me?
I don't really know.

I went to the school gym near my dorm because I realized I needed some sort of an outlet...and if I'm being completely honest... needed to burn off the late night pizza and cheap canned beer I drank.

But I got on a treadmill to walk...and eventually that walking led to running
And that was it.
I was set free.

I liked the rhythm of running.
I liked the breathing.
I liked that I had to focus so much on my steps and not DYING that I couldn't think about anything else. Nothing.

And at first... I really sucked.
I was a bad runner. My stamina was nil.
So I walked and ran...and walked some more.. and then ran a little more.
And I'm sure it didn't look pretty or graceful, but it was time I spent with me... not thinking.

And as time went on... I ran more, walked less... ran further(further? or farther? ), ran faster...

I ran alone.
I ran with friends and roommates.
I ran with my husband back when he was still my boyfriend... in the dark after work because he refused to let me run by myself.
I ran a few races.
I ran a handful of marathons.

And in all that time... I never considered myself a runner.
But by definition - and I did really  look this up -  A runner is a  person who runs  or a person who runs competitively as a sport or hobby: "a marathon runner".

So I guess before I realized it... I was a runner.
Sounds weird to me.  I'm not a runner... I just run.

And as I look back at that time I've spent running(I don't want to even count how many years now)...

It has saved me.

Running has gotten me through some tough times;
My twins' infancy...when I needed to escape the madness of my house I'd tie on my shoes and go for an hour... and I'd come back a new(or new-ish) mom... with a clearer head and renewed patience.

I ran through my younger brother's illness and his subsequent death and some of those dark days with tears streaming down my face, I felt like I could run forever...  leaving behind the noise in my head... running through the anger and sorrow in my heart....

And without that outlet... what would I have done?

Running has made me a better person... a stronger person.
Running has allowed me to be a better mother... A better wife.

It's not always easy or fun.
It's not always a "good" run... but it's always... ALWAYS worth it. 

And I certainly know that running isn't for everyone.
That some people would rather poke their eyes out than run a lap at the high school track.
I get that.
In fact, that was me at one point.

But, I do believe that everyone needs SOMETHING.

An escape... something that they can turn to when times get tough or maybe not even tough... just something that is just theirs alone -a mind clearing, thinking of nothing,  SOMETHING... knitting, cooking, a sport, yoga, reading....whatever

(not endorsing drinking or drugs here, although a glass of wine does make bedtime with my kids a little easier)

But it's food for the soul... a little ME time.

So am I still running? 
For MY sanity...and the sanity of my husband and my children and all of those that know me(or even come in contact with me)...


Peace, Love & RIGHT NOW

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Snow days... love 'em and LOATHE 'em

Welp, no school again today.

I get the feeling that someone somewhere is testing me.... seeing how much I can actually take before I go completely nuts and have to be put in a loony bin somewhere.

This is the fourth day my kids have been home from school and pretty much stuck inside due to the THREE FEET OF SNOW we had. 

And every day I walk the line between kindness and madness.
Good mom and bad mom.
Sanity and lunacy.

It's exhausting.

My kids are tiring, yes. They really are.
But they're kids! And I have a hard time remembering that sometimes.

They're supposed to be tiring.
They're supposed to be non-stop question asking, drink needing, snack wanting, mess making,  arguing, "I'm bored" kind of people.

That's their job.
And mine are REALLY good at their job.

The thing is... I can handle a snow day or two.
In fact, I enjoy them and actually look forward to them every winter!

Hunkering down, watching the snow, drinking hot cocoa with the tiny marshmallows, making crafts, watching movies all snuggled together on the couch, playing endless games of Uno and Old Maid... those are all SO very appealing to me.

But after the second day of all that yummy togetherness... I'm all about life moving on... starting the next thing... Everybody up and at 'em and OUT. OF. THE HOUSE.

So I've been in the house with my four kids for FIVE wait... SIX days. (I'm losing track of time over here)

I'm done.
I'm cooked.
I'm waving the white flag.


My kids have exhausted me, for sure.

But I think I've exhausted myself far more than my kids ever could.

In the past six days, I've had to check and recheck myself....
Monitor my patience level... rethink my expectations level...change my tone of voice...triple check my boiling point.

Bring it all down like twelve notches(all but the patience level. That, I've had to increase like tenfold.)


My kids are just being kids...that's all.
And I'm just being an adult who is done being with kids 24/7.

I'm done with the crafts and the Legos and the fights over Wii and the constant snacks and drinks and the who hit who first.... and the "SHE started it".

They need to be back in school.
We need to be back to our regularly scheduled program because I can't take much more of this.

I'm tapped out on patience. 
I need a break from them so I can be happy to see them again.
I need them out so when they come home, I can have a REAL smile on my face... not a forced smile that's more like a grimace with my teeth clenched. (how's this for brutal honesty?)

I'm over trying to juggle my work-from-home job with my Mom job because the two don't mix.
Not for an extended period of time, at least.

I'll be on a work call and I'll turn around to a child tapping me on the shoulder mouthing,
"Can I have a snack?".
To which I wave her away frantically trying to mouth to her that I'll be with her in a minute ...
To which she responds shouting, "WHAT?!? I don't know what you're saying!!!!" ....

It's been an interesting couple of days...and I'm having a hard time keeping all of the balls in the air.

And it's not fair! 

It's not fair to them... I can't expect them to behave like adults and give me the time and quiet I need to get my work done... they're NOT adults. (I must keep this in the front of my mind at all times)

And it's not fair to me.   I'm starting to want to hide from them.... I'm starting to cringe at the sound of, "Can I have a snack???" 
And their footsteps!! Their footsteps haunt me wherever I go.. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD! I'M GOING TO THE BATHROOM! I CAN'T PUT YOUR HAIR IN A PONY TAIL RIGHT THIS SECOND!!!!!

And I feel awful even typing any of this...but then I think to myself...
If I was trapped someplace with my best friend in the whole world for six days....
I'd be sick of her too! 

Everyone needs space... under the BEST circumstances.

Under THESE circumstances.? We all need a drink.

Peace, Love & RIGHT NOW

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Night is for sleeping... or should be.

I've learned a lot of things in the past seven years of being a parent.... a lot of things that,  to me,  are now ridiculously obvious -
but prior to being called, "Mom"  I never gave them a second thought.

Like, cleaning the house while your kids are at home.  It's like shoveling while it's still snowing. 
There is absolutely no point whatsoever.

And, being on the phone while making homemade play dough is NOT a good idea.  Flour and unsupervised children do NOT mix.

And, there is no such thing as pleasing everyone at the same time... especially at dinner time.
No matter what I make for dinner, there is always someone who doesn't like it. 

But one of THE most important things I've learned while being a parent?

Nothing good comes from being woken up in the middle of the night.

Now, I'm not talking about a baby crying to be fed...because even the most exhausted mothers will say that those peaceful times feeding their baby in the middle of the night are some of their favorites.

I'm talking about that tap on the shoulder when you're in mid dream at 2AM.....That tap that somehow incorporates INTO your dream.... That tap-tap-tapping that just won't stop until you realize it's not in your dream, but someone standing next to your bed STARING at you. 

#1. That's some scary sh*t. 
Opening your eyes to see your child standing there staring.  It's like poltergeist or something.

#2. Nothing good comes from your child standing at your bed at 2AM because it is usually followed by,

"Mommy, I wet the bed".

In which case you have to get yourself up,  wrestle the sheets off the bed...put on some clean ones, wash up the kid and put her back in bed all while trying to keep your eyes closed so that when you get back in your own bed, you're not wide awake and struggling to fall back to sleep.  No easy task.

Or how about this at 2AM?

"Mommy, I'm scared to sleep in my room"

This is a tough one.
This means that you either have to bring that scared little person into your bed to sleep between you and your husband. Where SHE sleeps and neither of you do.

You head into her room with her. Squeeze into a twin bed... lie there, not moving, with the hope that she falls asleep so you can slip out unnoticed...but that never happens because every time you open your eye a crack to take a peak at her. She's peaking back at you.


You can try the whole,
"No, you're not going to sleep in my bed tonight. I'm going to bring you back to your room and you're going to go back to sleep in your own bed"  (because isn't that what the "experts" advise you to do?)

This is usually followed up with some crying...maybe some crying and then some screaming ...and then you giving in and  letting her sleep in your bed in order to avoid waking up the rest of your sleeping children.

Because what's worse than one non-sleeping child in the middle of the night? 
FOUR non-sleeping children in the middle of the night.
(Can you tell that this one has been playing out in my house a LOT recently? Awesome.)

There is one thing that is far worse than the mild shoulder tapping wake up at 2AM ...
and that is the SCREAMING wake up at 2AM.

We've had a bunch of those.

Those happen when, most specifically, one (I won't mention any names) of my children is sick.

This child is scared of throwing up.
Actually, not just scared...absolutely terrified.
So if she feels sick, there isn't that tap on the shoulder to wake me up to say,
"Mommy, I think I might throw up"
Nope. That's too rational.

She wakes me up by screaming bloody murder in her bed... like someone is stabbing her over and over again.

Ever been woken up like that?
It's the closest to death I've come. It's heart attack inducing.  I'm not kidding.

So, hands down, the screaming is, by FAR, the worst kind of wake up.

#1. It takes a full 30 seconds for me to even realize that I'm out of my bed and RUNNING through my house... I have no idea where the screams are coming from or where I'm running to because I'm still asleep.  My body is working but my brain is not.  And my heart is now beating furiously.. by itself .....    ....on the living room floor.

#2. Once I find the screaming child.... Its a disaster trying to talk her down.
She feels sick, but won't admit it because admitting it is like defeat.
In her mind, admitting she feels like she MIGHT throw up automatically means she's DEFINITELY, NO WAY AROUND IT, going to throw up.

And for her, throwing up is the WORST. THING. EVER.
And for me? HER throwing up is the WORST. THING. EVER.

She's been known to try and outrun her vomit. Not kidding.
I bring out the bucket and she starts to run.
I once had to tackle her in the hallway to get her to throw up in the bucket rather than on the floor while trying to run away. 

She also screams right before throwing up. 
Which I guess could be a good thing because then we know to get the bucket ready.  But it's a little unnerving.  The pre-puke blood curdling scream scares the crap out of me every single time.

And all of this goes on in the dead of night. 
I've been woken up out of a sound sleep and the next thing I know I'm tackling my child in the hallway to get her to throw up in a bucket!   How does this happen?!

I have yet to be woken up in the middle of the night by one of my children handing me flowers...
Or by someone just needing to tell me they love me,.
Although, that would still be annoying, just less annoying/horrific than the tapping and screaming.

I mean, can't we all just stay asleep and leave the tapping, screaming, puking, bed wetting and whatever else for during the day?
I function way better during the daylight hours when I've had a full night sleep(Can't remember the last time THAT happened)  

I know that people say, "You'll miss this when they're older"

I can confidently say, "No, I won't."

This is one thing about parenting that I will NOT miss.  

The homemade playdough messes and the complaining over dinner?
Sure, I can see myself missing all those little things....

But the middle of the night?

I'd like to keep that just for sleeping. Thanks.

Peace, Love & RIGHT NOW

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Night Time Woes

"Night fears in children"...that's what I just googled.

I'm currently "researching" how to combat night fears, fear of the dark, and how to get your child to sleep in her OWN DAMN ROOM. 

Bedtime is anxiety producing ... for both the children and the adults in this house.

One of our twins (we'll call her TWIN B) seems to have developed a fear of the dark, a fear of night, a fear of her window(?), a fear of  ...  ....   BEDTIME.

And it's killing us.  Literally.
If you could be killed by lack of sleep, my husband and I would both be close to death by now.
For real.

As if it isn't bad enough that our four month old still gets up two times a night to eat...
We are now dealing with a five year old who has a tendency to come into our room and ALSO wake us in the middle of the night.

The baby,  I can deal with... at least he sleeps through his feeding and goes right back to bed.

Not so much.

She wakes us up and asks to sleep in our bed(which we allow to avoid an argument... I know...shame on us.)..and then doesn't SLEEP in our bed.  She stays awake.  She cries. She refuses to go back to her own room. She's loud. She carries on.

And I hate to sound insensitive...but it's DRIVING US CRAZY!!!

Just the thought of bedtime makes me cringe. 
The leading up to bedtime is now getting all of us anxious because we know the song and dance routine that is going to go on.

The teeth are brushed, the books are read.... everyone is getting settled into their beds and my husband and I get "the look" from TWIN B.  The look that says...

"I'm about to flip my lid because I don't want to go to sleep."

She shares a room with her sister.  You would think that would be comfort enough.  But it's not.
When the fears first started, we told her she could sleep with the light on.
But now?  Her twin, TWIN A, can't sleep with the light on. 

The poor thing gets up in the morning with bags under her eyes... looking like she hasn't slept a wink.  

So we battle every night...does the light stay on? Does it go off?
Do we dim the light? Is it too dim? Is it not dim enough?
We have enough night lights in the room to light a freaking runway...but that doesn't seem to be enough.

We've suggested separating the twins - putting one in a room as bright as day and one with the darkness she requires...and that goes over like a ton of bricks.
They cry.
They don't want to be separated.  
It's so bad that when TWIN B gets up in the night to sleep with us... TWIN A wakes up, sees her sister is gone, comes looking for her and then wants to sleep with us too!

Cue the circus music!  

We've talked. We've asked TWIN B to explain what she is afraid of.
And she can't.
 She doesn't know what she is afraid of exactly. 
We've learned that she thinks someone might climb in her window.... so we've tried to calm that fear by allowing HER to set the house alarm at night.

That's not helping either.  Especially since the other night, we didn't set it and she woke us up at 2am to ask of if the alarm had been set!

As a mother, I'm torn between wondering if she really IS afraid of something and wanting to soothe away her fears... and thinking maybe she is just being the dramatic child she has a tendency to be...always wanting to be center stage...always needing more attention than the others. 

I've started researching and from what I've read, I'm beginning to feel like a failure in my responses to her. 
At first I was reassuring and calm and understanding.

But as the nights go on and the struggles continue...
I'm less calm(read that as frustrated and pissed off), less reassuring, and more
"suck it up and GO TO BED".

My husband and I are both ridiculously tired and becoming extremely resentful of this little person who is making bedtime and nighttime in general... a NIGHTMARE(no pun intended)

So now what? 

The research doesn't give you the,
"So if all of these suggestions DON'T work...try, X, Y and Z"
They don't have alternate suggestions.... like shock therapy  (I'm really just kidding)

But part of me really thinks that these people who write these articles have never had a child with night fears or had a child AT ALL.
Because if they had, I don't think they'd even try to give you a "how to" instruction manual.
Because there is no right or wrong...and sometimes... NOTHING works.

Sometimes you end up not getting any end up with a kid or two in your bed... you end up raising your voice... making idle threats and empty promises.... and that's ok too because we're all only human...and we're TIRED humans.

So tonight?
Tonight, I'll try and keep my cool... I'll go in to her room at bedtime armed with loads of sensitivity, patience and a can of Bad Guy Spray(my dental hygienist told me about "spray" to keep the bad guys away)

I'm sure I have a round of musical beds to look forward to at 3am....and all I can say is...this too shall pass.
I just hope it passes soon. 

Peace, Love & RIGHT NOW

Thursday, January 24, 2013

An Orange Headband?

When I was about 8 months pregnant this summer, I signed up to do a Tough Mudder for this coming May.

I think I was caught up in the whole, "I'm going to get in great shape and get my body back...and I'd like to see my feet again..." idea of it.

Seemed like it would be a good motivator to get myself cracking again.
Not to mention that it falls on my husband's birthday weekend... and it would be "fun" (yeah, right) to do it together. 

Right.  Here I am... TOTALLY second guessing my decision.

The Tough Mudder peeps sent out an email last week I guess trying to pump up the registered "mudders"(That's what we'll call them).  Really, all it did was scare me.

I'm NOT pumped.
I'm terrified.

Apparently they have all new obstacles.

Woohoo! Awesome! Can't wait!
Is this some sort of joke?

So now... What?
Instead of pools of ice water under monkey bars and tunnels of muddy ice water and electrocution(!!!!!!!), they'll have pits with tigers in them?  Seriously. I'd like to know how they plan on taking it to the next level after electrocution?!?

I'm concerned.
I was concerned BEFORE the email.... Now I'm REALLY concerned.

I can run.  The running is not the issue here. 

It's the monkey bars. AND the electrocution, but that really goes without saying here.

Monkey bars and I do NOT mix.

Ever see someone do one of those Tarzan rope swings over water?  Looks easy, right?

They had one of those rope swings on a Hawaii vacation my family went on when I was in college.
My younger brother grabbed the rope, swung out over the water, did a back flip and dropped in.
So I thought, "How hard can this be??"
I grabbed the rope, lasted 1.5 seconds(that's being generous), gave out a helpless yelp and dropped like a ton of bricks into the water. 

So supporting my own body weight? That ain't my thang.
You know what else ain't my thang?  Being cold. And wet. And cold AND wet together.
And the whole electrocution thing?
SERIOUSLY?!?! Why am I doing this again?

So, say you survive the cold water, the monkey bars, the electrocution AND the tiger pits...

**note: I don't really think there will be tiger pits. Pretty sure that's illegal.

You know what you get at the end?

You get electrocuted and they give you a headband.

At least after running a marathon you get a medal.

Maybe I should create my own event and call it,

And my obstacles would be things that only a mother could do.

Things like....
Getting a baby out of a poop covered one-sie without getting any poop on the baby's face or hair.


Bringing a handful of kids into a rest stop bathroom ...all in one stall and have them NOT. TOUCH. ANYTHING.

I would call another obstacle, "DINNER TIME".
You'd have to wear a baby in a Bjorn, while cooking dinner, helping with homework AND bathing children. All with a smile on your face :)

At the end of all of the obstacles all the mothers would get a bottle of wine and an hour of complete silence.  TOTALLY worth it.

Ahh well, I'll suck it up and do the Tough Mudder in May and probably enjoy it! (doubtful)

I'm sure I'll laugh my way through it (and maybe cry some too! ELECTROCUTION?!? hello!?!)

I've made my husband promise not to yell at me as he's dragging me over a muddy wall or through a muddy tunnel and I'm laughing my butt off with no strength to help myself. 
When I laugh, I seem to lose all strength I have whatsoever. 

And in the end... I'll be so proud... and muddy... cold...and wet.... with a stupid grin...wearing my ORANGE HEADBAND!!

Peace, Love and RIGHT NOW

Monday, January 21, 2013

Small Town

I grew up in a small town.
Like, 3 square miles small.

There were less than 400 students in the high school...
70 students in my class.  

You didn't take the bus to school... you either walked or your mom drove you.

You knew everyone in your class and everyone in the classes above you and below you too.
You knew your classmates' siblings, parents, and probably their grandparents too.

Some of your teachers had your parents as students and your aunts and uncles too.

You knew your classmates by the shoes they wore, the cars they drove, their taste in music...
If you had a boyfriend or girlfriend chances are, a few of your friends also dated that same person at one time or another.

There wasn't much to do in town... at least from a kid's perspective.
We hung around at the town diner.
It wasn't a weekend unless you stopped there at least once.

My grandmother used to frequent the diner. She sat at the counter, reading her book and smoking her cigarettes(back when you could still smoke in the diner)
I can't tell you the number of times I had friends come up to me and tell me they saw my "Gram" at the diner... and she gave them money to pay for their cheese fries.

That's the kind of town I grew up in.

It was BORING.  Nothing even remotely exciting EVER happened there. 
And now, as a parent, I do believe that's exactly why my parents chose to raise us there.

It's a safe town, a quiet town, a NICE town.

And after high school... I couldn't get out fast enough.
I wanted a big college, I wanted new people and new experiences.
I wanted to go somewhere where no one knew me.  

I couldn't appreciate what a small town had given me... the people, the comfort, the love.

Actually, it was only a couple of years ago that I came to understand the beauty of growing up in a small town.
Two years ago this past October, I lost my 25 year old brother to cancer.
My family was devastated by his loss.

However, we were truly humbled and amazed by how our small town held us so close in our time of sorrow.

Families making meals and dropping them off to my family... we had food to feed our family AND a small army for weeks.
The letters and cards and phone calls... the stories that our small town friends shared uplifted our spirits and put band aids on our broken hearts....
There was a moment of silence held in my brother's honor at the high school football game the Saturday following his death... The high school soccer team wore his initials on wrist bands at their game.

Heartbreaking and yet so heartwarming all at once.

My brother's wake and funeral were like a town reunion,.... old friends, friends of friends, teachers, coaches, people I hadn't seen in years... all came out to support my family.
Our small town came through for us and helped us during the toughest time of our lives.

And now I've seen my small town come through again...

Just last week, a family from town received the devastating news that their four year old little girl has an inoperable brain tumor.

This little girl needs a miracle. This family needs prayers and strength and love.
And the outpouring that I'VE seen has been tremendous.

I've seen posts about this little girl's story posted by nearly all of my small town Facebook friends... spreading her story... asking for positive thoughts and prayers to help heal this sweet girl.

So if what I'VE seen is tremendous... I can only imagine what the family is feeling and seeing...the support they are receiving...the small town love.

I'm sure they are, as I was two years ago, ... overwhelmed and truly humbled.

This is what my small town does.

That said,  the small town girl in me is sharing the story of Brooke, a little girl who can use all the love, prayers, positive energy we have....

Brooke's Story

So to whomever this story reaches... Whatever you've got, send it her way.  And pass it on....Share her story.  Please.

Peace, Love and RIGHT NOW

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Worth a second look...

I recently read a quote on Pinterest that I absolutely loved and I can't seem to get out of my head....
"Beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight. Extend to them all the care, kindness and understanding you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward.  Your life will never be the same again."  
I was reminded of a post that I had "guest posted" in a friend's blog last year... and I figured it was worth a second post here.  Why not? 
Food for thought...
Towards the end of my brother Charles' battle with cancer, I spent a lot of time taking the train from Connecticut to New York – walking from Grand Central Station to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center – I had a lot of time alone with my thoughts.   I was angry. I was sad.  
I was devastated.
I tried to make sense of what was happening.  I was confused and I wanted answers.  WHY WAS THIS HAPPENING?
On the last night I saw Charles before he passed, I took a cab from the hospital back to the train station and then the train back home to Connecticut.  It was late – but of course, the city was still hopping. People were out everywhere.  
As I sat in the back of the cab and watched people going by I began thinking about THEIR lives.  I had no idea what their lives were like – just as they had no idea about mine.   
Were they sad? Were they feeling lonely? Was someone sick in their family? Were THEY sick themselves?   I didn’t know.
And I thought if they looked at me, would they know that I had just said goodbye to my dying brother for the last time?  
No, certainly not. 
And in that little moment…. I realized everyone, EVERYONE has a struggle.  EVERYONE you meet is dealing with something that is bigger than they are…. an illness, a sick child, a job loss.  
It was truly an “a-HA” moment for me.      And I thought, If everyone could go through life remembering that, wouldn’t this world be a kinder, gentler place?    If I went through my life with a little twist on how I thought about things….
“That guy who just cut me off at the traffic light…. Maybe he’s going to visit his sick mother in the hospital.”  or…. “That woman who didn’t say thank you when I held the door for her…. Maybe her dog just died.”  Wouldn’t that put a different spin on things?  Wouldn’t I be more tolerant? Less angry? More accepting and kind? 
In the days leading up to Charles’ death and in the time since he has passed - I’ve seen a lot of good.  A LOT of good.   I have seen acts of kindness that have truly humbled me.  And I’ve had to reassess who I am as a person….what I’m teaching my own children…and what my purpose is in this life.  
And while I am still completely devastated by my brother’s death and by the loss I feel with him no longer here, I have to think on the positive end that I’ve gained something as well… a new perspective, a new way of thinking.
If I’m having a bad day, maybe the person behind me in line at the grocery store is having a WORSE day.  Sometimes it takes a little bit of stepping outside of yourself, seeing past your own problems and knowing that sometimes, someone has it a little bit worse.   In taking that step, you start to see…. Maybe my problem isn’t so bad. 
I’ve had a lot of time to think about this…and no, I don’t have the answers as to why my brother got cancer and why he died at the age of twenty five.  
But I’d like to think that I learned something through his ordeal.  I’d like to think that I took away a “big picture” idea and that I’ll be a better person having seen what he went through.  
Maybe adjusting the way I think and seeing the bigger picture IS the good that has come. Maybe passing it on and paying it forward is how I am going to turn this bad thing into something good.  
Because I KNOW I’m not going to be the one curing cancer, but maybe the little things I do, the kindness I show, the lessons I teach my children – that we’re all only human and we’re all in this life together… Maybe all those little things will add up to something great. 
Peace Love and RIGHT NOW

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Is it a twin thing?

"Yes, they are twins." "Yes, they are identical."
"No, I did not have fertility help" (and that's really none of your business anyway)
"Yes, twins run in my family."

Those are the answers to just a handful of questions I get when I go out with my girls.

Having twins opens a door to a whole new world of weirdness and strange questions from random strangers who think MY children are THEIR business.

And it really IS a whole world of weirdness.... identical twins, that is.
The things my husband and I witness and watch and have experienced these past five years with them is all together unique.

First, when people see you with twins, they think they're allowed to ask you all kinds of strange things.
Second, they don't care what you're in the middle of doing... they'll stop to question you anyway.

And these are really questions they'd never ask you if you had just one baby or one child with you. 
Twins is a whole different sack of potatoes!

Stranger: "Did you nurse them?" 
Me:  "Excuse me?!"

Stranger: "Did you have a vaginal birth?" 
Me: "I'm sorry, did you just say vagina to me?"

And then there are the people who need to tell all about THEIR twin experiences, as if I need to hear all about their niece, nephew, daughter, grandson, etc.... It's bizarre.

The first year of the twins' life was a total blur. The sleep deprivation was unlike anything I've ever experienced. Don't remember much at all.  I DO remember the pediatrician telling me at their 2 week appointment that I needed to refer to them by name.  I could hardly remember my OWN excuse me if I referred to my babies as THIS one and THAT one. 
Promptly changed pediatricians after THAT appointment.

I took tons of pictures of the girls as babies and fact I still take tons of pictures..., but things like... what their first word was and who walked first?.. I have no idea.
So I've told them they both said "Da-Da" at the same time on the same day...and they both walked on the same day(which is probably fairly accurate, although I was half asleep through it, so I don't really know) I knew I should've listened to my mother and wrote some of this stuff down! Damn it!

As toddlers, I didn't have to worry about one of them running off in one direction and one in the I had initially assumed would happen.  They were always, ALWAYS together. 
If they cried, they cried together. If they laughed, they both laughed.   Tantrums? You bet... together.

I have a not so fond memory of carrying two tantrum-ing twins like footballs through the Walmart parking lot in a full sweat...with a two year old scrambling behind me to keep up. Yeah, that was fun.

And if they got into mischief?... it was definitely side by side. 
They worked together to accomplish their goals... Like taking a Costco sized bottle of dish soap(that weighed more than they did) out of the hall closet and jumping on it...spraying liquid soap all over my hardwood floors. 
Ever tried to clean up soap? Right.

Or dumping an entire bag of cat food into the cat's food bowl as well as all over the laundry room floor. Awesome.

Luckily they grew out of the mischief making stage...and as with any child - just when you get one thing down pat, everything changes and you have to learn something new all over again. 

The girls are now in separate Kindergarten classes with separate homework and separate friends.  So some of their friends don't even know they have a twin. One will get invited to a birthday party and the other will not.  It's a challenge, not a big one, but one we never even THOUGHT about when they were infants and toddlers.

And as they've gotten older.. we've watched their relationship develop into what I like to call....
"An old married couple"   There is a giver and a taker.  One would give you the shirt off her back and the other would happily accept it.  And that's how they co-exist.

They are best friends. And worst enemies too.
They know each other's quirks and what buttons to basically, they know how to piss each other off.  BIG TIME.
They bicker. A lot.

But they also laugh a lot and love each other a lot.

While I've had to teach my oldest daughter empathy and compassion(this doesn't seem to be an inborn thing in I've seen her step over an injured and crying sibling to ask me for help with her homework) ...
My twins have had it since birth.  They're compassionate and caring because they've always had that other person to be compassionate and caring towards and about.  It's a true blessing.

I often watch my girls interact with other kids and wonder if they think they're any different from anyone else.   I wonder if they notice that people CONSTANTLY ask them,
"Which one are you?" or call them by the wrong name. 
Is it annoying? Or just a way of life for them?
When they were little-little, I would ask them if they thought they looked the same and they would respond, "Yes, because we have the same match heads."

Now if you ask them if they look the same, they shake their heads, "No"
...and yet, if you take a picture of one with your phone and turn the phone to show it to her...she'll insist that it is NOT her, that it's her sister.  So funny!

And they DO share that "twin connection".  I've heard the conversations they have where as an outsider, I can barely understand what's being talked about...and yet both of them are fully comprehending the entire exchange. 

The other day one twin asked the other,
"What is that word where you're the same thing and people can't see you?" 
I sat there thinking... "Um. What?! I have no idea what you're even asking"  
And her twin responded, "Oh. Camouflage."   Just like that.  What?! How?!?

And playing charades with them? Forget it.
One will act out something that would leave even the best charades players stumped and the twin will guess it within seconds!  It's bizarre and amazing all at the same time.

The love they have for each other..... it IS something to see, though. It's more than just a sibling love. It's a twin love.
I checked in on them the other night before I went to bed.... there was one twin bed empty. The other bed held both of the girls... both of their pillows... the two of them snuggled together sleeping soundly. 

As I closed the door to their room, I thought... "How lucky are they to have each other?"
But really...How lucky am I to have THEM?
I get to experience the twin thing through them...and as challenging as it sometimes is...with all the growing pains we have now and will continue to experience.... I really wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.

Peace, Love and RIGHT NOW

Friday, January 11, 2013

Post Holiday Blues

So... after the holidays came and went in a flash, I was left with a seriously crappy feeling... like the post holiday blues or something.

I actually just googled,  "Post Holiday Blues"
And it's a real thing!!! I had no idea! I thought it was just me!

Anyway, I felt such a sense of letdown after it was all over, I could hardly see straight. 

For weeks, I busted my butt cooking, baking, shopping, wrapping, decorating... and for it to all be over in a flash and everything put away and done.... Holy.  What a disappointment!

Anyway, I just read this article about ways to combat the Post Holiday Blues... here are a few of the suggestions

1. Rescue an animal.    Seriously? I have four kids, a cat and a frog... I don't need an animal, rescued or not.  I'm trying to cure my blues... not put myself into a nut house.

2. Declutter. Well, I do this on a daily basis. Please see my post about hoarding.

3. Volunteer.  Maybe in a few years when my kids are older. Right now, I need my own volunteer to help me keep the chaos at my house to a minimum.

4. Give.  Didn't I just spend the past month giving? I gave until it hurt. I can't give no' mo'

Anyway... the list goes on... you get the idea.

I did NOT do any of the above.
What did I do?

I shopped.

I went online and bought Christmas stuff.
A lot of what I ordered came today. 
And now that I'm past the post holiday depression... my purchases seem a little, well...ridiculous.

I bought Christmas decorations for the house.... a Santa Claus, a cute little Christmas tree.... a snow man, a snowman nesting family(what?!?) Christmas crafts for my girls for NEXT year....

But that's not all. I didn't just shop online.

I bought a fake 6 1/2 foot Christmas tree at Walmart on Clearance.

I bought a pair of pajamas and Christmas socks.
I bought Christmas wrapping paper, Christmas gift tags, ornaments, two blow up things for our yard(Seriously???)

I also purchased my girls' Christmas dresses from Crazy 8 for next year.

And just the other night I almost spent over $100 for matching pajamas for our whole family for next year!!!

What. Is. Wrong. With. ME?!?!?!?

My husband had to talk me down from the pajama purchase.

Now, I can blame these purchases on the Post Holiday Blues and be done with it...or I can admit to my weaknesses.
1. I love online shopping
2. I love clearance

Online shopping...what is better than ordering something from the comfort of your own couch and having it delivered to your front door? Nothing beats that feeling of getting a package in the mail! And the coupons online? I mean, they might as well pay ME to buy the stuff!  20% off my entire purchase plus free shipping? Yes, please!

Clearance... Seriously... 25 cent rolls of wrapping paper? That's unheard of. It's absurd!
So yes, I bought like 10 rolls. Of course I did.  It's not like it's not going to get used.

And that 6 1/2 foot tree? It was originally 40 bucks! I got it for $10!

I actually buy a lot of my kids clothes on clearance for the next year....
I know that's ridiculous, but I do it.
Why spend $15 for a shirt when I can get it on clearance at the end of the season for $2 for NEXT year.

So combine my love of online shopping, love of clearance and Post Holiday Blues and you've got the perfect storm.
December 26th, someone should just confiscate my credit cards... but really?
It's not like I'm spending all that much - IT'S CLEARANCE!!!!

My husband thinks I have lost my mind... and I may very well have.

But at least I'm over the blues.

And now we have enough Christmas wrapping paper to wrap gifts for the whole neighborhood next year.... and a 6 1/2 foot fake Christmas tree! 

The blow up things for the yard?
The kids are psyched, but hubby has his limits.... those may have to get blown up in the backyard.

Peace, Love, and RIGHT NOW

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Dinner Table

So it really only took until our twins were 4 years old for all five of us to be able to sit at the dinner table and actually eat dinner together.

Prior to that, I'd feed the kids separately/early and my husband and I would eat dinner(sitting down!) after everyone was in bed.   Dinner was chaotic enough feeding the three girls without the two of us trying to eat at the same time!

Not gonna lie...eating dinner together, alone... just me and the hubby... at the table or in front of the TV was pretty amazing. It was the best part of my day! No kids... just us and silence or even Wheel of Fortune if we wanted :)

Now we've gotten to the point where we all sit together(all six of us) and have dinner at the same time and resemble a somewhat normal family(yeah, right)!

Dinner table time at our house is anything but ordinary.

It's hilarious.
It's loud.
It's informative.
It's chaotic.
It's not relaxing OR peaceful.

It's kind of like a variety show.

We hear knock-knock jokes that make no sense.... We see the latest tricks and dance moves that were learned on the school playground. We learn about the kids that were misbehaving in class and on the bus.  We are sung songs and sometimes even sung songs in Spanish!

It's kind of like a box of chocolates at dinner time, you never know what you'll get.

Not everyone is well behaved at the table.... on the contrary. Dinner time is when most of our "time outs" happen. 

Almost every night someone gets sent away(or dragged away sometimes) from the table for one reason or another. 

And although my husband and I stress manners at the table.... sitting nicely, using a napkin instead of a shirt, chewing with your mouth closed, no talking with your mouth full... we still get the every night offenders.

We have even had to make a "no tooting at the table" rule.  Kind of thought that went without saying, but alas....Fart DOES= funny and most ESPECIALLY at the dinner table.

Try disciplining a child that's tooted at the table while trying to keep a straight face and hold in your laughter. Near impossible.

Every night we try to go around the table sharing our favorite and least favorite parts of our day.
There is always an argument over who will share their favorite part first....and then another argument over which direction around the table the sharing will go. 
Favorite parts of the day are often,
"When I scored a goal in gym" or "When I sat next to my best friend at lunch" 

Of course, the LEAST favorite part is always lost on the twins.... who seem to think that least favorite is comparable to SECOND favorite.
So they always say something like, "My least favorite part of my day ....was seeing Mommy when we got off the bus"
To which my oldest always rolls her eyes and tries to explain that LEAST favorite means something you didn't like... which in most cases, leads to an argument... and then someone crying.

Throughout it all, my husband and I will look at each other across the dinner table... and say something like, "How did this happen? Do these people belong to us?  When did high kicks at the dinner table and rounds of the 12 days of Christmas become the norm??" 

And sometimes we'll go so far as to reminisce about the days of going out to dinner just the two of us... with a bottle of wine(or 2) and going home to a quiet and NEAT condo and sleeping in on Saturday.... ahhhhhh

But you know what? I wouldn't trade our "norm" for anything in the world. 

MY favorite part of the day is always sitting at the dinner table with my family... the chaos, the toots and the songs and laughter..... all of it.

Peace, Love & RIGHT NOW