Archives for posts with tag: love

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My oldest son is finishing up Kindergarten next week. I have been having an internal struggle with this stage of life we are leaving behind. The idea of First Grade seems harder for me to accept than Kindergarten was. There is still something that makes them feel so little while they are in Kindergarten. It is their toe dip into the big world of education. With First Grade looming in the wings, I cannot help but feel that there is one last piece of babyhood I am quickly losing my grip on.

My son will not be having a Kindergarten graduation ceremony. It is just how things worked out at his school this year. I am a little sad about that. I have even toyed with the idea of staging my own at home. (I am only half joking) I am sure I can find a cap and gown on Amazon in a pinch. I am not above doing something silly like that!

Recently, I overheard some people talking about how they find no value in any childhood graduation ceremonies. They even went to far as to say High School graduation is unimportant. I could not disagree with them more. I find value in celebrating these kinds of events. I cherish those moments. I am not a perfect parent and I never pretend to be. We all have our moments. When it comes down to it though, I cherish these important moments of my children’s lives. I go out of my way to create happy moments together.

We try our hardest to use positive reinforcement with our boys. I said we try. Sometimes we succeed and sometimes we end up yelling. Every parent loses their patience once in a while. However, we value the concept and practice of positive reinforcement. This morning we cheered on our toddler who cleaned up a mess he created yesterday. He got high-fives and a ton of praise. Despite the fact that he was being straight up destructive when he threw my container of ear plugs around my bedroom. His face was a big cheesy grin when he heard us praise his clean up job. As a parent, you learn when to let go of the lesson and bring on the encouragement. It can be a balancing act, but you adapt. When you think about it, staging small graduation ceremonies for Preschool, Kindergarten, Middle School, and then the big one in High School, creates the ultimate method of positive reinforcement. You are creating happy and celebratory memories. You are encouraging them to work hard and follow through.

Childhood memories have value later in life. Close your eyes and think back to your happiest childhood memory. Maybe it was a family vacation, maybe a certain holiday, maybe it was a normal day that ended up being so silly and fun, maybe it was a graduation ceremony. The examples are endless. There is even a chance you had a hard time picking just one happy childhood memory. The Wall Street Journal examined the importance of childhood memories. The research determined that when children are able to recall childhood memories, they learn to cope better and have an easier time adjusting later in life. It helps them to develop their own sense of self. This allows them to reflect on their lives and see if they have stayed the same as a person or if they have changed and grown. When they recall happy memories, for example, a large happy life event that involves their family (think Kindergarten graduation ceremony), they learn to value family moments. The reason all of these internal changes occur is because children learn from their recalled memories as they mature.

There is a point in having a graduation ceremony for a child. There is lifelong value in that. Sure, it is not the only way to promote healthy, happy, and positive memories. There are so many opportunities in childhood for happiness. It is one way though. One which should not be scoffed at. How miserable are you as a person to scoff at a happy little afternoon for a child? When we value creating happy moments for our children, we are preparing them for a lifetime of living and learning.

I will do my best to make my son’s last day of Kindergarten memorable, even without a structured graduation ceremony. I always have him hold up signs on his first and last day of school. I started in pre-school. I already have my supplies to make next week’s sign. We will do something fun after I pick him up. He can choose dinner that night. I am not above having a box of goodies for him to open when he walks back through our door a First Grader. I am so proud of him for working so hard this year! Kids work hard in school. Their brains are growing, synapses firing, they create and absorb new knowledge! That is something to celebrate and encourage. What value is there in making a child feel like the work they accomplished is stupid and a waste of time? None, there is none. What will create a better world? Lifting up these tiny humans who will one day be in charge. Lifting them up high and celebrating their lives, happiness, joy, and success will only make our world a better and brighter place.

If I had my way, I would throw my children a graduation every year. I cannot wait to see how they both grow over the next school year, even if a piece of me is sad to watch my babies grow. I cannot wait to be a part of the happy childhood memories that will shape their adult selves.

 

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Last week I was lucky enough to be accepted as a RedTri Spoke Contributor! I am so excited about this opportunity to share my voice in their community.

In Defense of Downsizing takes a look at what happens when you look into your heart and family and make choices based on the answers you find. I explain our journey to living with less space and more time together.

I hope to remain active in this contributor community. I will always share with you whatever work I am fortunate enough to submit and have published.

Do you have any pieces that have been published on different sites, blogs, communities? Share your links below!

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I have been a mom for just shy of six years now. By just shy, I mean six years ago today I started going into labor. Tomorrow will officially be six years. I have learned, grown, changed, and loved a lot in these last years. These are some of the things six years of motherhood has taught me.

That I want my children to grow up in a world that values love, kindness, equality, social justice, empathy, and generosity. It can feel like an uphill battle some days. When everything around you seems filled with ugliness and hate. That doesn’t mean that I will stop wanting them to live in that kind of world. I will always strive and fight to shape that kind of world for them. I will send them out into the world with those values, hoping they too will be agents of them. 

Perfectionism is a nuisance. You cannot control everything at every moment. Life and children are unpredictable and sometimes you have to let more shit go than you care to. I cleaned up the whole kitchen and living room on Wednesday. Spotless! By that evening they had scattered toys all over the kitchen floor. They are still there. I sighed as I walked by them to start writing this. At some point I will get to it, but I am sure when I turn back around, they will have recreated the same mess. You have to let it go. 

Humility. You are not above wiping a poop covered butt (and even back, cause that shit, haha, can and does get everywhere) You will find yourself in the middle of situations you never thought you would be in. Being urinated on. Catching vomit in your hands. Getting poop under your fingernail. Changing a diaper in the trunk of your SUV in the parking lot of a pumpkin farm. Wiping up a half spilled grande pike roast from the floor of Whole Foods that your two year old knocked over when he moved your cart as you were trying to pick up the box of his minecraft figurines he dropped everywhere. So now you have minecraft toys, a box, and a giant puddle of steaming hot coffee all over the grocery store floor. These things happen on the regular. Stay humble folks, there is no prize for being prideful. You will be wiping up floor coffee in public. Or your own version of that scenario. 

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Generosity. Be as generous as you humanly can. With your love and praise for your tiny humans. With your family. With your neighbors. With complete strangers. I have seen it pay off in these last 6 years. My almost 6 year old has started random acts of kindness. He has asked me why I buy coffee for the car behind me. Why I roll down my window and hand cash to the homeless man with the sign on the street. I explain why in detail. This week at school he brought his Pokecards. Some friends didn’t have any and wanted them. He was planning on trading with another kid. He did. Then he gave out cards to his friends that did not have any. Just because he wanted to, because they wanted some cards too. He received nothing in return. Save for my adoration and praise when he told me the story.

Selflessness. You have to give so much of yourself when you are a parent. At least you are supposed to. We all do things differently. I give a lot. It can be exhausting, but then I think about how if I did things differently. If I wasn’t around to give them 200% of myself and then another piece just to be nice. I would not feel right. I want to be around and be the face in their memories when they look back at their childhood. When it all clicks about the magical times, the birthdays, the random normal days, the dinners, the laundry, the hugs, the books, the kisses, the songs, the errands, the treats, the love. You learn to put other people ahead of yourself. Which can be a hard thing to learn to do.

On that note, you also need to take care of yourself. Self-care is crucial. A trip to D.C. to march for yourself and fellow humans. A epsom salt bath. And yes, lock the damn bathroom door. Pilates in the morning. Putting them to bed a half hour early because they are bat-shit crazy that night. Ordering dinner, even though you have things to cook, they wore you out and you just don’t feel like cooking that night. Order that pizza, and bask in the glory of little to no cleanup. Self-care can be huge things, like 4 day trips, or they can be tiny little minutes throughout the day, locking yourself in the bathroom for 5 minutes. It comes in all shapes and sizes.

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Love. True unconditional heart growing mind blowing all consuming love. It is a love like I have never experienced. Sometimes I watch their faces and I literally feel like my heart might explode with joy. Sometimes I still look at them and think “they are mine! How is that possible? How did I create these two super cool humans?” It still takes my breath away, that I get to have these two dudes in my life. I am not sure I will ever quite get over that. It is amazing.

The value of words. We talk through things a lot here. Taking time to use your words to explain things to your children will really strengthen their understanding of life. Even if you don’t feel it is sinking in in the moment. They absorb these life lessons and they take them out into the world. I tell my boys “everyone is different.” When they have questions about why someone does something differently than we do. I always explain it as best as I can, then sum it up with “that is ok because everyone is different.” When the oldest was four, some kids at school hassled him because he doesn’t like ketchup and wouldn’t eat it. He got frustrated and finally told me that he said “I don’t like it and that is ok, because everyone is different.” Words matter. Words sink in. Talking through things sinks in. They are very intelligent.

To say sorry. I am a firm believer in apologizing to them. Sometimes moms lose their shit. We do. If you say you don’t, you’re lying, sorry. It comes in different forms for each person, but we all get pushed too far sometimes. If I feel guilty that I snapped on them or was short, or yelled over something totally stupid, I will go and talk to them and say I am sorry. This is not every time they get in trouble. Sometimes they do naughty things and they have to be reprimanded. But I can feel it in my heart when I know it was more me than them. Then I do go say sorry. The oldest and I can have real conversations about human emotions at this point, and we do. We talk through it. The little one, a hug with kisses and saying “mommy loves you I am sorry” will suffice at this point.

It is ok to talk to children as if they are humans with thought processes and feelings. I try not to baby things down for them too much. I explain things to them. I am not a huge baby talk person. I have always interacted with them as the red blooded people they are. I think this has shaped them for the better. I can see it in the oldest. He has a grasp on reality. The things he can discuss blow me away sometimes. I encourage him to think through his thought process. I can explain something and then ask him what he thinks/feels/wants from that situation. I have explained to him what is happening if I think he feels anxious. I explained homelessness to him. We have had conversations about dissent. We talk about body autonomy and consent. They know the actual names of genitals. My motto is if I keep that conversation going and trust them with actual knowledge that it will pay off down the road as life gets messier.

Sometimes we cannot do it all. We just can’t. It’s a fact. We want to. We feel we need to. This leads to being burnt out. I know, I have been there. Sometimes you have to take a step back and delete some shit from your life and schedule. Sometimes you have to say no we are not going to do that. Today we are going to be lazy and relax and enjoy one another. There is nothing wrong with taking some time to just be. As a family. I am still working on this. I am not great at taking things off of my plate. It is a work in progress.

Children love their mother so much. Sometimes I can feel their love radiating off of their little bodies. It can be overwhelming. Sometimes moms just need no one to touch them for, maybe, 2 minutes. That would be nice. Then you hear their little tiny human voices saying “mommy” and they just want to nuzzle in and you realize how very loved you actually are.

My favorite most calming thing in the world is when either boy hugs me and snuggles in to the right side of my neck. I call that “the good stuff” and love when they hug me tight, their little cheek against my neck. That is my calm. That is my heart. That is my motherhood.

I am not a perfect mom. I feel like I am failing a lot. I am hard on myself. I always think I can do better (I should reread that perfectionism paragraph, huh?) I am just being honest here. I do know that I have grown so much since having children. I have become a better person and woman because of them. They have shown me where my heart actually resides. They have made me cry. They have made me laugh. They have made me angry. They have made me insanely happy. They have made me stronger. I am thankful for these last six years. I feel lucky that I get to take this journey with them. Even as I shouted to my husband last night “You are getting a vasectomy!!! I do NOT want a third baby, they are crazy right now!” Yes, they were being insane. Fighting over Mario toys, tears and yelling, all as I was trying to make their dinner plates. No one could eat until the fight was resolved. It was ridiculous. It was so loud. It was frustrating. It was all mine. My crazy, loving, obnoxious, kind, silly, frustrating, kind, hilarious, adoring, and imperfectly perfect family.

I am looking forward to where the next six years of this journey takes me. Thank you boys. Thank you Jackson for making me a mommy. Happy start of labor day my sweet boy.

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Wrapping up my journey to D.C. with my mom for the Women’s March on Washington is not an easy feat. I am still decompressing and trying to wrap my head around every experience. I will do my best in bringing these experiences to written word.

We arrived late Thursday morning. Which gave us plenty of time to squeeze in some kind of adventure. We decided to head from our hotel in Virginia to D.C. We were able to see D.C. as a ghost town in some regards. Pennsylvania Ave was already blocked off. People could waltz down the street as they pleased, taking in the overwhelming atmosphere. The soon to be half filled bleachers were already set up. Not looking too different than the photos from the parade.

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The chilling feeling when reading this was incredible. I will hold this close to my heart over the next 4 years. 

We walked to the Capitol Building where there were sound checks occurring. I would say there were a mix of people there for two very different reasons. While we may have elicited stares, as our missing attire of support stood out amongst red hats and t-shirts, things were peaceful. I experienced one of the most thrilling and invigorating moments of my life. Climbing atop a railing in front of the Capitol Building, laying down, and flexing myself into a backbend. My mom took one of my now favorite photos. I felt so energized just doing that. One more place around the world where I have done a backbend.

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Seeing how the country sets up for the peaceful transition of power is something everyone should experience. As much as I loathe the current political situation, it is rather encouraging to see democracy in action. Be that, the peaceful transition of power, or women (and men) taking to the streets to exercise their 1st Amendment rights in a peaceful, productive, and supportive manner, it is wonderful to know at its heart, America stands for those tenets.

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Sad faces on Obama’s last night in the White House. We already miss you!

We had dinner in town and when we walked out we found ourselves literally in the middle of another protest. The energy was a bit anxious and agitated. The vibe wasn’t my kind of thing. We accepted some swag from them, but ultimately we moved on. Eventually we made our way back to our hotel. Later we realized that group participated in destructive protest Thursday and Friday. It is important to open your mind to the vibe of situations. Sometimes your intuition will tell you more than your eyes can discern in the moment. This was no different. We did not come to D.C. to destroy or harm. I strongly feel being vigilant yet peaceful is the journey I want to take.

Friday we stayed away from D.C. proper entirely. We made our way to Alexandria. Where George Washington’s very feet walked the ground my feet walked. If you don’t know me well or personally, I have a degree in History and my favorite president is Washington. The town is beautiful. It was lovely to see the Potomac. We encountered one of the most inspirational people I have ever had the privilege of having a random conversation with. A teenage girl who is Muslim. She was there with her school for the inauguration. We chatted for a long while. She explained her experience in America. She was very detailed and open with us. She plans to go into journalism and politics. I will never forget what she articulated to us. You know the old adage that America is a “melting pot”? She has a better description. She described us as a salad. We compliment one another when we are all in that bowl together. Together we are better. Yet we remain our individual selves. My mom and I continued that conversation over dinner that night. I brought up the fact that if you are a piece of spinach and the tomato next to you is moldy, rotten, and bad, that reflects on you. No one wants to eat a moldy tomato salad, even if the spinach is perfect and crisp. We all need to be good and work together for the salad to be delicious.

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Alexandria adventure

I am not sure how often we have vacations that help shape us into a better more enlightened person, but I have experienced such a trip this time around. My eyes are even wider now having listened to so many human’s stories. Humans I would never have encountered otherwise. I feel honored to have been given the opportunity to engage them. 

This brings me to the big event. Saturday. The Women’s March on Washington. I have to quote Hamilton at this point, “This is not a moment it’s the movement.” This was not one moment in time, but rather the beginning of an incredible movement. The proof that something was awakened on November 8th is hard to deny.

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Our journey back to D.C. began with a new friend that went on the shuttle to the metro with us. She was making her way down there alone to meet up with a friend and asked to tag along with us so we could help her navigate the metro. Absolutely! At this point we were pros as we used it to go everywhere. From there we met a mother, her son, and his husband. Nate put on thigh high red stiletto boots to march. He said that if we can walk around in heels all of the time, he can for the march. His mother radiated warmth, love, and adoration for her son. His husband had a pair of chucks shoved in his coat pockets just in case Nate changed his mind on his footwear. Unique and open people I would not have crossed paths with otherwise. 

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The train quickly filled up, the energy was palpable. The vibes were happy, empowered, excited, warm, and read to march. Striking up conversations with a person two inches from your face felt as natural as asking your significant other how their day was. Walking off of the train and up to the street came with this pulse of kinetic rays bursting on the scene. Women everywhere. A sea of pink hats. We arrived early in the morning and already we were everywhere. There was no hate. There was no anger. No one was rude. We were all in this bubble of kindness, acceptance, and general patience for one another. We were all there for the same purpose after all. We were there to celebrate and support one another.

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As the rally began you could hear how far the crowds stretched without actually being able to visualize them. You would hear this distant roar that sounded as if it pulsated slowly through the buildings and streets. Then you would hear the crowd around you cheer and clap and shout along. Deafening and empowering simultaneously.

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I feel honored to have been in the presence of such empowering humans. I saw and heard them speak. I was near the stage of the rally. I was moved to tears many times. I was proud to cast my vote for my Senator Tammy Duckworth during the election. My elation at hearing her speak and motivate us at the rally is beyond my descriptive capabilities. I remember shouting to my mom “That’s my girl!!!” Maxine Waters is also an amazing and inspiring woman. Just earlier in the week I had been watching videos and news coverage of her discussing all of this. Then there she was, before my very eyes, speaking to me with her powerful voice. There were so many speakers that moved me in so many different ways. I was brought to near sobbing tears by The Mothers of the Movement. Losing their babies. I was there missing my two sweet boys and they were just a plane ride or FaceTime away. My heart collapsed for what they have gone through. The variety of emotions that flowed through my body is wide. Empathy, empowerment, inspiration, joy, sorrow, anger, fierceness, elation, feeling awake, strength, and on and on.

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The march itself did not begin at the predetermined time. The rally went on and on. And then we finally marched. “Tell me what democracy looks like?” “THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE!” I truly, with all of my heart, believe in that. Democracy looks like exercising your cherished 1st Amendment right. If that means, writing this blog or literally putting my boots on the ground and yelling until my voice cracks, I will not let anything stop me from enlisting that right.

I have been so stressed since the election. I think so many of us have felt that way. I have shed tears many times. More than just on November 8-9th. I have felt despair and utter disbelief that this is what we are stuck with. I get nauseated when I am reminded of the popular vote totals. I cannot wrap my head around that. I am not sure I ever will. I will say, this march was so refreshing. I felt this release inside of my chest. I was able to take a detoxing deep breath for the first time since November 8th. I slept easily last night. I was ready for bed by 8:30pm. I feel good. I think a lot of us needed this.

I also know it is important to not let this be the end. This was not the stopping point. This was not just one giant therapy session. This needs to be the start of the battle. We need to continue to fight in any capacity we are capable of. This may develop differently for each human on this side of history. That is fine. Maybe you talk to a stranger. Maybe you spread kindness. Maybe you write your congress person. Maybe you call them. Maybe you volunteer. Maybe you run for office. Maybe you find an organization that means something to you and you get involved. This morning I felt that I know the path I want to head down. I know the organization I want to get involved with. We are moving in February, and once we are settled in, I will get the ball rolling.

For me and my experience, this was not about destruction. This was about building up our nation through solidarity with one another. This was about cherishing equality for all persons. This was about lifting your neighbor up when they need a hand. This was about celebrating the uniqueness that lives inside each of us. My mom pointed out that it was really neat how all of the pink hats looked alike yet they were all a little different. Being who I am I said “Like vaginas!’” My mom laughed and said “yeah or like, people.”

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And that is the take away. We are all the same in some regard, yet we are all unique in our own right. Our choices, experiences, relationships, visions, and desires are unique. That is what makes this whole world so wonderful. We should embrace that, celebrate that, and respect that. There would be a lot less hatred in the world if we were less afraid of differences and more open to cherishing the opportunity to bump into one another, for a lifetime, a moment, or a movement.

I posted a status this morning regarding this election’s results. I am going to start this post off with that and go from there.

I weep this morning because I genuinely don’t know how I’m going to look into to my almost 6 year old’s face and tell him hate, racism, misogyny, anger, intolerance, and sexual assault won. I truly don’t know how I will do this without sobbing. I am always honest with my children and today I want nothing more than to tell big fat lies. I’m just so sad on a level I’ve never been before. Jason was hugging me all night as I sobbed, reassuring me he is as terrified as I am. No answers, just supporting me as my heart broke. And we both wondered together what happens next? I’ve never had to consider that my children will now grow in a world that is a little uglier, because despite giving my heart to stopping this from day one he announced, I failed them. We failed them.

As the day has progressed I think I have experienced several stages of grief. I am not happy about last night. By no means, but I am ready to keep fighting for what I believe in.

This morning after a hazy trip to Whole Foods for milk, I stopped at Starbucks for a coffee. I was still in the stage of almost nonstop tears. I decided to pay for the car behind me. I had to do something kind. I had to spread kindness. I had to be the change I want to see in the world. It is a small gesture, but sometimes these small gestures have a chain reaction.

On Monday my husband and I decided we wanted to sponsor a 2nd child. We have been sponsoring a little girl in Lebanon for nearly a year now! I received an update from her on Monday and my heart ached to help another child. This time we are sponsoring a little boy from the US. His favorite subject is reading, so he won me over instantly. Be the good in the country, nay, in the world.

I won’t sit here and write out every donation I have ever made or every activity I have volunteered for. I will say that my heart aches to help others. To try and lift all people up when and if they need it. To give my time to causes that do good. My heart aches today because not only did Trump win, no, an ideology that is misogynistic, racist, homophobic, intolerant, and ugly won. That nearly half of our country (she won the popular vote) chose either to whole heartedly support or were not bothered enough by and voted for those thoughts.

I am a female. I have a special needs cousin. I care about people from all walks of life. I am terrified of what this ideology will lead to. I have a degree in History where I spent a lot of time studying the 1930’s and 40’s. I have read and written many times over on what this kind of ugliness results in. I do not know if that will happen to us or if it does, to what extent. I truly hope that it doesn’t. I truly hope that we move forward and the anger and divisiveness that has plagued this campaign just ends tomorrow. I am wise enough to know that is more than likely wishful and naive thinking. I have been woken up though. I truly feel a fire inside of me. A fire to stay active and participate. I will use my voice and my brain to fight for what I believe in, a country that is truly a melting pot, where we celebrate that everyone is different, as I tell my boys every day. Midterms are next. This woman, wife, mother, daughter, granddaughter, sister, niece, cousin, friend, and neighbor feels the passion and is ready to stay awake and active.

I ask this of all people who feel as I feel this Wednesday afternoon: participate, speak out, do something kind, help someone, make a donation, vote, protest, campaign, run for office, instill kindness, love, tolerance, and generosity in your tiny humans, or just smile at a stranger. Do not let this defeat you. Do not be indifferent.

Eli Wiesel has been inspiring me since I was a young girl. I cried at his passing this year. I remember reading Night for the first time and my world being rocked. So I leave you with these words:

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Kindergarten started last Thursday. I feel like we have been at it for a century already! I have already been missing our lazy summer mornings. Taking my time getting us ready. The boys leisurely eating breakfast for an hour. Deciding that very morning what adventure we would tackle that day. Last minute trips downtown. Our preschool mornings were pretty lazy too. We only had two of those a week. I could arrive there whenever I wanted. I aimed for 9 am, but at times we got there later. Sometimes we rushed to get out the door, but nothing quite like now. I haven’t been in a “where are my keys I cant find your shoes lets go lets go NOOOW” rush yet. The process is still shiny and new and I remain rather organized. Smoothie foods prepped in containers, clothes laid out the night before, backpack organized, up at 5am on the dot, tea preset to brew at 4:50am, and a down to the minute timeline. We do have to get out the door by a certain minute and so I am always watching the clock. We have made it with time to spare every drop off. (knock on wood) I am sure those hectic moments will come as I get more and more comfortable in this new life. I hope not, but I am being realistic here.

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He has had a bit of a rough time adjusting. We have been pretty inseparable his whole life. He has never gone away every day. There are only a few times I have been away from him overnight. This is a whole new world for him. He doesn’t want to leave me in the mornings. Yesterday was his best day and a teacher still had to peel him off of me when I walked him to the cafeteria. I am supposed to drop him off by the front doors. But his eyes fill with tears and he clutches my hand so hard and begs me to not leave him up there alone. I have a hard time saying no to that. He is only 5 after all. I am not complaining. I love being so loved, I just wish that this were easier for him. I hate seeing him cry. I want him to have fun or at least enjoy himself.

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I made him do this several times the other night because it cracked me up. 

Yesterday was better when I picked him up. He was happy and chatty and “had so much fun!” This was a new page from the other pickups. I was relieved. A whole weight fell off my shoulders on our walk back to the car. I try to play it cool, but on the inside I was doing a backflip while holding a toddler! This is the hardest part of parenting I have come across. Not being able to just fix whatever the issue is. Not being able to BE there physically to hug him and help him. I am a very hands on mom. (see: me insisting on holding Alex while he was put under anesthesia) So taking a step back for me is a new challenge. It is hard for me to not chat with his teacher at every drop off and pick up. It is hard for me to not physically walk him into his classroom. I am doing it, but on the inside I am also crying and screaming. All while smiling, reassuring him, and encouraging him to let his wings spread and fly.

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After school yesterday we stopped to meet Sofia and Jake!

When Alex saw Jackson at pick up yesterday he ran up to his big brother, wrapped his chubby little arms around Jackson’s waist, hugged him hard, and said “bruh bruh!” I was goo on the floor. This has been an adjustment for all of us. But seeing how much Alex loves his brother, asking for him all morning, and then the first thing he does is hug him tight, makes this a pinch easier. Small moments like that help you through more challenging times. The innocence of a nearly 2 year old being excited to see his best friend after being apart for a few short hours is truly one of loveliest moments in life. Children have a way of making simple things magical.

I have been writing and drawing notes for Jackson’s snack. They don’t get lunch because it is still half day. (When Alex’s shuffles off to Kindergarten it will be full day, I am preparing myself now). The other day he told me “I actually kind of love the notes mom.” Every day I have wondered if they brought a smile to his face. If they help make his day a little brighter. I hope so. Yesterday he saved his picture and put it in his pocket to carry with him. It tore in two pieces when taking it off the napkin. He saved both pieces. I just hope that these little reminders that he is loved make any rough moments at school a little less rough. That he knows he has loving and snuggly arms to come home to.

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Fly guy was from yesterday. Apple Blossom is today’s note.

Today is a new day and as always I am greeting him with a smile and words on how amazing today will be. I will praise him. I will encourage him to make new friends. A boy told him he didn’t want to sit by him anymore. Which is one of the reasons he was so upset. I told him I will always want to sit by him and he can always sit by me, no matter what! As cheesy as that may sound, it is true. The deeper lesson I am hoping to convey is that this is his safe place, we are his safe people. No matter what, he has love and support with me and his daddy. We will always sit next to him if he needs us. This week he needs us.

 

Parenthood comes with the expectation that you will experience new things. It is filled with constant and changing experiences. You could write a year’s worth of blogs on every kind of new thing parenthood brings. There is only one on my mind today though.

My oldest started Kindergarten yesterday. We survived. That is for another post. It has given me some more one on one time with my youngest. For a couple hours 5 days a week I have an only child of sorts. This morning we spent a little time outside. While watching him I got lost in thought.

At the beginning of August Alex had tubes in his ears to clear up chronic fluid behind his ear drums. This fluid had caused temporary hearing loss in him. We don’t know exactly how long it had been causing it, but it was long enough to impact his speech development. Which is how we discovered the hearing loss, at speech therapy.

Since then I have gotten to experience what it is like to watch someone whose hearing loss had been remedied rediscover the world. That is an experience I have never had. It is an experience that I would not have assumed came with parenthood. However, let me tell you, it is one of the most amazing things I have ever been a part of. The difference in him has been amazing. He is no longer frustrated. He is sunny and happy and oh so chatty.

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He notices all of the sounds around him now. Small noises grab his attention. He is amazed when he hears a cacophony of nature outside. This morning I took time to explore this with him. We could hear so many different tunes. Birds tweeting, crickets chirping, acorns falling from trees, a small plane that flew over our home. We heard it first and then hunted the skies for it until it became visible.

We play this game where he says momma and I respond with a quiet whistle. He laughs and laughs and says momma again and again. I can whisper things to him now and he responds. He has more words and is saying phrases and sentences. He articulates what he needs, wants, and doesn’t want.

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Watching him hear the world clearly for maybe the first time in his life has been one of my favorite parenting experiences. I was so worried about the surgery. I felt awful for not catching this sooner. I was hoping with all hope that it worked and we didn’t put him through that for nothing. Every one of those concerns were squashed. When his face lights up at the sound of a bird singing a song, I know that I wouldn’t change a thing. He has allowed me to watch someone exploring their world for the first time in a new way. You can see the appreciation he has for his newfound hearing ability. I can see it in his face when he hears some random noise that grabs his attention. WOW OOOO OHHH Mamma!! I can see it in his face when he starts a conversation with me. I can see it in his face when he now says hi and bye to everyone that walks by him. I can hear it when he answers questions with real formed words instead of babbling or yelling. I can hear it when he plays his mamma game. I heard it that very post op night when he went from say “wah” for walk to “WALK.” Right now he is sitting at the end of the couch we are on together. He is hugging our cat and saying “kikey.” Which is a word he couldn’t even come close to forming before.

There are tons of thoughts on seeing the world through a child’s eyes. But for me, I am hearing the world through a child’s ears. And it is phenomenal.

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Yesterday I came incredibly close to losing my first born child and my youngest cousin. This story has a happy ending. It is a story that I want to share though. I have been talking about it a lot all day, if you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you know this, except, as the day has progressed the initial shock of it has worn off. I actually cried about it for the first time this afternoon. I cry at commercials, songs, shows, movies, and books, so for me to not have tears until 24 hours later means I was taking time to process this.

We arrived at a family party yesterday afternoon. Jackson loves their pool and immediately wanted to go swimming. He is a strong swimmer. He has been swimming unassisted for over a year. He has been in water since he was 3 months old. We are human fishes. We are merpeople! Ha! I lathered him up in sunblock and sent him on his way. There was a large number of adults outside right by the pool. My cousin Gavin was also swimming. I thought nothing of it.

I chased down Alex with sunblock, then I pinned my squiggly toddler to the floor to get his face covered. I handed him to my dad and started to apply my sunblock. Jason had been standing nearby. Then he wasn’t there anymore. Then someone came and told me Jackson and Gavin almost drowned. I don’t remember who. Or exactly how it was phrased. I had tunnel vision. I looked out the window as I dashed outside, seeing my husband lifting Jackson off of the pool ladder. My aunt was getting out of the pool as well, soaking wet, fully clothed. I made my way over and saw my child shaking and hugging his dad. Then I got the story.

Gavin’s arm floats had fallen off at some point. He began to struggle. Jackson saw him. His first instinct was to swim over, grab his cousin, try to help him up, and then begin to swim towards safety. Gavin began to panic and pulled the both of them under. Which is a pretty normal reaction to drowning. You hear about that happening a lot. My aunt Bridget trying to reach for them from the outside of the pool. My aunt Jenny jumped into the pool, in her clothing, to save both boys.

Jackson is 5 years old. He tried to save someone’s life. He tried to save his cousin’s life. He told me last night that he just tried to hold his breath as long as he could when he was going under. He did his best. The amount of calmness this child dealt with this entire situation astounds me. He was calm enough to see someone drowning and tried his best to save that person. He didn’t freeze or scream, he went in to help, not even thinking of the possible outcomes. Then he was calm enough while struggling to remember to hold his breath under water. He is 5 years old! 5!

Both boys were fine. They are both fine today. Jackson is a bit banged up. He has some scratches on his neck. I noticed those this afternoon. Both boys got back in the pool a little later. No further situations developed. I was glad they both felt safe enough to try and swim again.

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Yesterday I could have lost my son and cousin or just one of them. Our family could be spending our Monday a lot differently. We could be in a hospital hoping someone pulled through. We could be planning a funeral for a tiny human. The magnitude of that is not lost on me. I am thankful that Jackson saw Gavin and that pulled the adults’ attention to the pool. I am thankful my aunt reacted quickly enough to save both children. It makes me sick that I was inside chatting away with my Dad about freaking sunscreen! As I slathered it on my arms. I know I could not have known what was about to happen. I know these things happen in the blink of an eye. I know that they are both safe. But in a different blink of an eye that all could have ended tragically.

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I have been cherishing my sweet boy today. We checked on him as he slept last night. I rubbed his face and covered him with a blanket. I have been calling him a hero, because he is. I told him he is a good person and so very brave. I let him pick out a toy at the store and any treats he wanted. I have hugged and kissed him. We built lego sets and played a board game over and over. I let him listen to the song he wanted in the car over and over. He had his summer reading tutor over this afternoon. We told her the story. As I was saying it out loud I lost it. I told her that is the first time I had started to cry thinking of what could have happened. She said, “yeah I bet you were in shock still. I am going to cry!” I think that is a fair conclusion.

He makes the world a better place, even if he hadn’t done what he did. He is so bright and sunny. He is so personable and friendly. He can talk for hours. He lights up the world. The world could have lost that light yesterday. I am so thankful that I get to continue to raise this incredible human being.

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After we got home and the boys in bed, we were cleaning up the kitchen. It was a disaster. I was exhausted. I kept grumbling about all the dishes and mess. My husband said to me “Better dirty dishes to complain about than only having one kid.” I was confused at first but then he explained what he meant. Our complaints could have been far more serious last night. I will take a kitchen full of dirty dishes at the end of a long weekend over losing my sweet child any day.

The rather hot button topic of what occurred at the Cincinnati Zoo last Saturday has been weighing on my heart since Monday morning. I have to admit I was a little oblivious of what had happened until then. Alexander woke us up Monday morning bright and early and very hysterical. Upon calming him down, we slowly started our day. That included lounging on the couch after he wiggled his happy way off my lap to go play with his toys. I decided to put on the news.

I heard a brief preview of what they planned to speak about after the commercial break. My husband sat to my left. Immediately I got a bit snippy about it. They couldn’t tranquilize him? He had been more apprised of the situation and began explaining things to me. I have to admit that my initial reaction may have leaned a bit toward the masses reaction. Then I opened my ears and my heart and listened carefully to the whole news story.

I sat on my couch in my pajamas and glasses. Sipping my coffee. Watching my very precocious and often mischievous 20 month old play with his things, often stopping to give me his sly little grin. I heard the story. I heard how he had been told just moments before that he could NOT go play with the gorillas. (Here is an account from an actual witness) And then in the blink of an eye he was gone. 15 feet below in a pit with a male Silverback Gorilla, who by all accounts, regardless of intention, was still whipping that small boy around. I turned to my husband and tried to say, “that would be Alex. Alex would do that.” I couldn’t. The words stopped in my throat. The tears came to my eyes. I physically ached in my chest. I hurt for that mom. I lost my breath for a moment. That could be Alex. He would do something like that regardless of my stern warnings not to. Jackson would likely never. Even at Alex’s age. Certainly not as the 5 year old he is now. He has always been more inclined to follow my rules. I discovered months ago that I am dealing with the horse of a different color when it comes to my sweet baby boy. I have to parent differently.

Yesterday I had to stop at Walgreens. Alex did not want me to hold him the entire time. He wanted down. He is a wanderer. He is a fast wanderer. I was waiting in line. Within the 10 minutes we were there he bolted from me 4-5 times. One of those times we were near the exit and I was trying to pay. I had to chase after him before he made his way out of the automatic doors. I then attempted to physically restrain him between my two legs so I could finish paying. He broke free. This time taking off towards the back of the store. I again, had to stop what I was doing to chase after him. The mom in line behind me smiled and laughed. I said “He is a wanderer.” As I scooped him up into my arms. She smiled and said “I remember those days.” Her older maybe 8 year old daughter closely at her side. Alex then dropped a sticker he had been clutching in his pudgy little hand for the past 30 minutes. She immediately bent down to grab it for me and hand it back to him. As I was clearly trying to wrangle him in and get him to listen as best I could. I don’t let him run free. I tell him over and over and over and over that he HAS to listen to mommy and he HAS to stay with mommy. He has two choices, stay with mommy on the ground, or in my arms/cart/stroller. He smiles and runs away. Some kids are that way.

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Alex. My bright, mischievous, brave 20 month old.

If you know me in person, it is fair to say I am not a neglectful mom. You may have even picked that up through following this blog or even my Instagram account. I have committed fully to being their mom. Maybe sometimes to the point that I do get burnt out, but yet here I am. Recently I was very sick and my husband offered to put the boys to bed without me. They both wanted me to come up and help. Jackson said “It’s fine, she will hear us crying for her and just come up anyway.” So even my very bright 5 year old sees me for who I am. A workaholic. They are my life, my job, my world, my very breath that keeps me alive (and often drives me crazy). So when Alex has wandered off for a brief moment and I happened to be in the middle of something else, paying, talking to Jackson, or any of the other million tasks I am balancing in one day, does that make me a neglectful mom? Does every other parent out there never ever take their eyes off their precious porcelain offspring? Have they never looked away for the briefest of seconds only to find their human being child with an active brain has made a decision for themselves regardless of all of the parenting they have done over the years? And the non parents, don’t even talk to me. As Ygritte would say “You know NOTHING Jon Snow.” Seriously, non parents should not judge what an actual parent has to go through with their child on a daily basis. You have NO idea. I had none before I had children. I admit that. Accidents happen. We balance life and children and pets and cleaning and interaction with other people in public and sometimes things happen. I have had bad parenting moments where I think “holy shit. I will NEVER forgive myself.”

There I was sitting on that couch. My heart aching for the whole situation. Then reading up further to try and learn more. I saw the angry cries for harm to come to the mom. I read people calling her a bitch. I felt a rush of anger myself. Anger towards the people who are so hateful. I am saddened that an endangered creature lost its life. I am more happy that a little boy didn’t lose his. I am empathetic towards that mom. Because being a mom is literally the hardest thing I have ever done. It takes a lot out of you every day, no breaks. You do so much as a mom. I wanted to hug that mom. I wanted to tell her that I am so happy her boy is alive. I wanted to tell her I am sorry that people are so cruel. I wanted to ask these people where is their outrage for people hunting these majestic creatures in the wild to eat them? Or the outrage for the NATURAL habitat loss? Are you as angry about that? Or just over the fact that Harambe lost his life while in captivity, a life that arguably was no life at all? Are you going to call for petitions to end the poaching and habitat loss? Are you going to call for petitions to help save them from Ebola? The link has some information about the real threats to Gorillas. Where is your outrage for the injustice that led to them being endangered animals? Or did you just wake up feeling like “today I could really go for some mob mentality?”

I am not perfect mom. Truly. I do dote on my boys. I am devoted to them. My world revolves around them. Sometimes they are all I have to talk about because I am literally with them 24/7. I have a wanderer, as I call him. I don’t know what he will be like when he is 4. I hope that we have worked through this a bit by then. I cannot guarantee that. He has a wild side. He is adventurous. He has little fear. He goes for things he wants when he wants them. He is incredibly smart and understands the world around him. He has a sly grin that lets you know he is about to do something you are not going to agree with. He is only 20 months old. So from one mom with an inquisitive child to another, I want to hug you. I want to tell you I know mistakes happen. I know you didn’t set out to go to the zoo and have your child end up in a gorilla exhibit. I don’t think you’re a bitch. I don’t think you should be thrown in jail. I empathize with you.

I came across this in my IG feed and it seemed fitting for what I have been grappling with since Monday. The world would be a kinder place if we all took a collective deep breath and remembered this.

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I have still been cooking. I have even been coming up with a few new recipes. I even revamped previous recipes to make it seem different and new. I have gotten zero posts up lately! I have an almost 9 month old (two more days!) Who just popped his first tooth through. Simultaneously he began a very intense case of separation anxiety from me and me alone. My time to get things done has decreased. I get more sleep. But my days are filled chasing around two little boys, both of whom are often literally clinging to my body. Ha!

As a mom you cannot do it all. Something has to give. Taking time to photograph and write down every night’s dinner has been that thing. I am usually trying to feed two children and myself at the same time. I am trying to keep dinner as tear free as humanly possible. Being a momma to two very attached momma’s boys is a delicate balancing act! I actually have a couple photographed and recorded recipes that I just never got around to posting. But my kitchen is vacuumed. A TON of laundry is folded and put away! My sink isn’t over flowing with dishes. There is room to add more. Kids have been exploring outside. Kids have been taken to their various activities. Kids have gone on a day trip out of state. Forts have been built. I have been getting in my runs and Pilates. Breakfast, lunch, and dinners have been prepared for all every day. Sitting down to blog, eh, not so much. Babies, amiright?

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Every season is different. There will come a time where Alexander will sit around without demanding my undivided attention every moment of the day. His big brother has those moments. He will get there too. This first year of infancy is all about survival. Things tend to even out after they turn 1. Or so I have learned in my parenting experience. I should end this small update and try to get one of those backlogged recipes up. Then I should go and throw some of those dishes in the dishwasher to make room for the future ones that are just itching to make their way into my never ending pile!