Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 in review

2013 was a year with many ups and downs. We laughed, we cried, we had great times, and terrible times. Some of my family visited from away -

And we welcomed a handsome new nephew into the world.

 Time was spent with family near and far, whether it was in person, on the phone, or on skype.

 "I love you" was said more times than I can count.  We struggled while both of us worked full time, sitters came and went, we hugged and kissed, we argued and yelled. Good decisions were made, along with lots of mistakes, that became learning experiences.

Limits were breached, bonds were tested, friendships were lost and formed. Loved ones who have passed were missed, as well as many who are living. More wrinkles appeared, gray hairs have grown, and another year went by without someone asking to see my ID. Hundreds of books were read, I cried and laughed while watching endless shows and movies. I sang and danced while listening to music. I lost myself, found myself, and did it all over again. I paid it forward, and it felt amazing.

We celebrated lots of birthdays, and we ate a lot of cake!

We celebrated the 1 year Heartiversary of my son's Open Heart Surgery.

We splashed in puddles and walked in the rain, we picked flowers and wore rubber boots. Slides were slid on, sandboxes played in, swings were pushed to the sky.

Trails were walked on and trees were climbed. Teeth were brushed, naps were had, pajamas were worn, tantrums were thrown, colds were caught, and diapers were changed. Popsicles melted, ice cream was eaten, and we walked barefoot in the grass.

Barbecues were had, berries were picked and hands were held.

Gymnastics were joined, leaves were jumped in, pumpkins were carved, and candy collected.  We celebrated our 6 year anniversary.

 Santa's lap was sat on, the tree was decorated, and a gingerbread house was built.

Now as a family we will face 2014, we will make it through the difficult times, and we will enjoy the amazing times together.

Here's to making the most of another year!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Tis the season to spend, spend, spend

18 days to christmas, which means the chaos is upon us. People draining their bank accounts, skipping bills, maxing out credit cards. Everyone is in a panic to make sure their kids get a pile of presents and have 'The best christmas ever'. The grocery stores and malls are packed to the rim with wild eyed consumers prepared to do battle for the gifts on their shopping list. And to each their own, if that helps you sleep at night, and it's what you want to do, then by all means do 'er up. Despite the original meaning of christmas, it has morphed into what people want or need it to be. To me christmas is about memories, bright lights, the smell of a real tree in my home, yummy treats around to indulge in, a big turkey dinner, hot chocolate, snow, fun holiday activities, a few gifts and surprises, of course the big bearded guy in red, and my loved ones.

I haven't bought one single thing yet. When people ask me if I'm all done my shopping and I calmly reply with "I haven't even started". This is what happens -

And then I have to calmly explain to them that everything is going to be alright, Christmas will arrive one way or another and my kids will not go without.  Here's the thing, I will go shopping next week (13 days before Christmas). I will spend no more than $150-$200 on each of my kids.  We buy for our nephews, and send cards with a photo of the kids to the grown ups.  So, no I am not concerned, stressed or panicked about getting things done on time. The only thing that brings those emotions on is thinking about having to go to the mall and deal with the herds of people.

Sometime before christmas the kids and I will go through their current clothes and toys and we will bag and box up everything they've outgrown or don't play with or just simply don't need anymore, then we'll donate it. Every year I do this, and I explain about other people who are less fortunate than we are, who don't have what my kids do. And by no means are we well off, but I appreciate what I do have and have enough common sense to acknowledge the fact that others have far less than I do.

I think the comment that bothers me the most is "Just wait until they're older". Wait for what? For them to ask for $700 phones, laptops, TV's and things that would require pigs to fly before I ever allowed my children to think they were entitled to ask for such an expensive gift? And I'm telling you, the day that one of my kids writes 'iphone 10' on their list, is the day I drag them to a homeless shelter or soup kitchen and make them spend christmas volunteering. IF my child decides at the appropriate age that there is something they want that is over the limit I spend on them then they can get a paper route or a part time job and pay for a portion themselves. I will pitch in the $200 I normally spend, they can choose to ask their grandparents, aunts, uncles etc... for cash that year instead of gifts to go towards their purchase, and then they can pay the remainder. If that is all they get that year, then so be it. They need to learn that you have to work for what you want in life, be reasonable, and if you want more than what is within your means you need to be prepared to sacrifice to get what you want.

I love my babies, and I understand that they're only kids once, and I do want them to have an awesome childhood, filled with amazing memories and imagination. BUT, that can be done without spending a fortune and buying them everything they ever ask for.

So here's the thing, as parents we all have different hopes and dreams for our children, we all have a different ideas of what the Holidays mean, religious or otherwise. I'm not saying the way someone else chooses to celebrate is right or wrong, I'm just saying it's not right for my family. To each their own, but don't automatically assume that everyone celebrates the same way you do.

 To end this post I'm going to share my top 3 favorite Christmas memories.

#1 - The year my brother, father and I were setting up the tree and the stand broke just as we had finished decorating it. My brother had to lie under the tree and hold it up while my Dad and I tried to figure out what to do. We ended up taking the base off the patio table because it had a hole in the middle, so we managed to lift the decorated tree up in the air, and switch the bases, I believe we had to stuff something in the hole to hold the tree in place, but it worked! We laughed so hard and it was so funny, that I never forgot that day. The only problem was that we didn't even think about the fact the base had been sitting outside and was filled with solid ice that soon melted and created a disaster. We cleaned it and laughed harder. I'll never forget that day.

#2 - I was probably 4 or 5 years old, I had really wanted one of those round plastic saucers for the winter, but after opening all of my gifts that morning I realized it wasn't there. I tried not to be too disappointed and play with the toys I did get. Suddenly I hear my dad yell from the front entryway "Wait a minute! There's something out here!" So I run out, and sitting by the front door was a bright yellow plastic saucer! I played with that cheap piece of plastic for many winters to follow.

#3 - This memory is from my daughter's first Christmas in 2009. It was our first Christmas as a family. My fiance's mother and stepfather traveled over to spend it with us. I was cooking a big turkey dinner for them, my mother and brother. In the middle of cooking dinner our oven broke. Instead of panicking we laughed our heads off, packed the half-cooked food up in the back of a truck and drove down the road to my dad's house. We spent some time at his house and finished cooking our food there, then drove it back home to eat. We could have handled that differently and been upset , but instead it's one of my best christmas memories.

 Not one of those memories involves me getting tons of presents. No kid is ever going to look back and say "Wow Christmas was awesome because we got so many presents!" (I hope not anyway). They are going to look back and remember the memories you've helped create for them. The piles and piles of gifts are not going to stick in their little brains. But the memories and few special gifts will more than likely remain with them forever.

At the end of the day, you do Christmas your way and I'll do it mine.

Happy Holidays!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

No-one said it would be easy

If the present me - A 30 year old mother, traveled back in time to tell my 21 year old single self what being a parent is like, I never would have had children. I would have traveled to some seedy area of a third world country and trusted a guy with an eye patch, named Hugo to perform a tubal ligation on me in a dark alley with a dirty scalpel (maybe I'm exaggerating a little bit). But I constantly question my sanity for having kids. Knowing what I know now if I went back in time and had the option to blast my fiance's swimmers with a huge dose of radiation, would I? - No. Because at the end of the day when I'm exhausted and my inner-self is jumping up and down for joy because it's my kid's bedtime, and they wrap their little arms around my neck and give me hugs and kisses, I know I am loved unconditionally forever, by at least 2 people in this crazy world.

Being a parent is hard. I know you hear this said all the time before you have kids, but you don't fully understand how painstakingly difficult raising these little poop machines can be. I am not the picturesque mother with her expensive stroller, who's baby weight was magically sucked into a vortex leaving me looking refreshed and wearing a supermom glow. I am not always calm, I don't always enjoy spending time with my kids, I look forward to their bedtime and sometimes I want to run away and never look back.

That being said; I started this post 2-3 weeks ago, honestly I can't remember the exact date. That's one of the many side-effects of motherhood, you lose all sense of time and dates, you have a worse memory span than your 95 year old Grandpa, on a day when he forgot to take his meds. You become a walking, talking zombie, sometimes running on 2-4 hours sleep a night, you spend all day wiping noses, cleaning up messes, then cleaning them up again, and again, until you throw your hands in the air (and wave 'em around like you just don't care) sit down to pin recipes you'll never have the time to make, or crafts you'll never make with your children. You want to be supermom, you think you should spend more time with them, but then the little one starts screaming like a banshee and throwing shoes all over the house, while the big one is somersaulting all over the living room, landing on the cat, and knocking furniture over. And before craft time even begins - it's over. You feed them lunch early, put them down for a nap, take a deep breath (maybe hyperventilate a little and scream into a pillow) then pray for even 20 minutes of complete silence.

I love my kids with all my heart.  When I had my daughter you couldn't pry her out of my arms, I would check on her every 30 minutes at night to make sure she was breathing.  I fed her all the right foods, read books and tried to be the "perfect parent". Then she turned two and revealed her true identity as the toddler hulk and I gave up on my quest of being mother of the year and settled for sobbing hysterically, holding her door shut while she kicked, screamed, cried, hyperventilated and puked because she had to do a 2 minute time out for not cleaning up her toys.

Then my son came along (surprise! apparently babies happen when you forget to take your birth control)  I'm not going to lie, I most certainly thought about running away on more than one occasion, just last week I threw myself outside and held the door closed while I counted to twenty and tried to stop hyperventilating and shaking, while my son screamed like someone was murdering him and my daughter (who swore I abandoned her forever) pounded on the door screaming my name over and over again. That was one of those fight or flight moments, we all hear the stories of the tired and frustrated Mommy who has to set her baby down in a safe place and just walk away to calm down, I hate to tell you but it doesn't seem to ever get any better or easier. I used to tell myself " Once she can communicate it will get easier", "Once she's potty trained", "Once he can walk", "Once he's done teething"... Whatever you need to tell yourself to make it through another day - Do it! But tonight, tomorrow, the next day, until the day you die, you will be a mother. You can't run away, you can't escape, you're trapped forever. So take a sip of wine, hide in the closet and cry into a chocolate bar, do whatever you need to do to survive motherhood.

One day they will be older, they will go to school, they'll make friends, they'll become more independent, they'll get their first boyfriend or girlfriend, go to a dance, get their heart broken, probably get drunk or experiment with drugs, have sex, sneak out, lie to your face, get a job, get their license, fall in love, get married and have babies of their own. None of those milestones are going to help you sleep any better at night. Of course there are truly amazing (I mean sunshine, lolipops, puppies and rainbows kind of amazing) moments as you raise your kids, but it's really hard to remember them when one kid is swinging the cat by her tail through the air and the other has decided to reprogram your laptop by hitting every combination of buttons possible, and next thing you know your computer is speaking foreign languages and rockets are launching from secret destinations in the desert (Dramatic? I think not).

It might not ever get easier, you might never sleep again, I'm not going to sugar coat it and tell you it's going to be amazing and that loving your child is always easy, because sometimes you're going to hate yourself for wondering if it's legal to duct tape their mouths and lock them in a closet.  Some nights you're going to hold your knees to your chest in the bathtub and cry until you feel like you might explode because you just don't know how you can possibly do this any longer, how you can do this day after day with no hope of a break or end in sight. Some morning you're going to leave the screaming baby in the exersaucer and walk away before you test your theory of seeing if it will fly like a Frisbee when you fling it out the window.

You are human, you are a mother, you're tired, you're hungry, you're stressed, you feel like there's 100lbs sitting on your chest, you break down, sometimes scream (and then feel like crap about it), sometimes you give your kids cookies and put them in front of the TV just so you can breath for 60 seconds. It's okay, it's all going to be alright. Just take a deep breath and really look at your child(ren), remember all the incredible moments you've experienced with them, the amount of love you felt the first time you held them, how empty and lost you would truly feel without them in your life. Remind yourself that you haven't sold them to strangers yet (despite considering it numerous times), reassure yourself that you are doing an amazing job keeping a little human being alive, and you are an awesome mother.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

I am flawed

Today you are you, that is truer that true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.
- Dr. Seuss

I have wrinkles, crows feet, stretch marks, cellulite and gray hairs and plenty of visible and invisible scars. I have bags under my eyes that are usually accompanied by black circles.  I'm stubborn, strong-willed, opinionated, over-analytical and far too talkative. I can be easily irritated and downright moody at times. I'm impatient, indecisive and I always have to learn things the hard way. I ramble, rant and vent and I tend to be far too sarcastic. I find it hard to express myself properly without writing it down. I'm defensive and naive. I love food far too much and I fear you will find the doorway to Narnia in my cluttered closets. But I am a woman and I am real. I'm strong, independent, creative, empathic, witty and intelligent. I have lived, loved, lost and learned in this journey we call life. It's all part of being human. I am not perfect and that's alright. I'm quirky, awkward, random, geeky and downright weird. I don't fit into a mold and I'm thankful for that.

You might think your smile isn't perfect but it's perfectly beautiful simply because it is a smile. You're flaws and imperfections are the true definition of beauty. Every scar, every line and wrinkle you have earned has a past and carries a story with it. Never be ashamed of the person you are inside or out. If you can't love yourself and can't see how beautiful and amazing you are, how do you ever expect someone else to love you - for you.

Be amazing, breathe in and out, hug a tree, dance in the rain. Laugh until your stomach hurts and cry until you feel as though your heart might explode. Don't wait for moments to come to you - create the incredible.  Don't ever feel as though you need to change anything about yourself, don't hate any part of who you are, simply kill yourself with kindness. If you feel there are parts of yourself that could use improvement, than simply create change, but not from a negative place. Be proud of every mistake you have ever made, making mistakes means you're living and learning. Don't hold regrets from your past, release the negative and embrace the positive - Embrace your true self. Never pretend to be someone you're not or you will slowly lose pieces of yourself until you become lost and broken.

If gravity has taken hold and your breasts are heading south, don't mourn their loss, love them for what they've now become. You have stretch marks from carrying your babies, embrace them with the fierce pride of a Mama lion. Love your love handles for exactly what they're intended to be, handles. Study your reflection in the mirror and know that you are beautiful. The only qualities you can truly possess that will make you ugly spawns from negativity and hate. Your inner essence is unbearably visible at times to the world. If you're filled with hate for yourself and others than that is what you're going to project and draw in. Radiate happiness, light and positivity and it will come back to you. Use it as a weapon to repel darkness, hate and negativity.

The only way you can be truly unique is to be you. That is the one thing in this world nobody else can do.

Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius, and it is better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.
- Marilyn Monroe