Wednesday, March 22, 2017

What Is Enough?

There are days when the word enough slips into my mind ever so sneakily. Then there are days - like today - when it roars into my reality like a 21-year-old-me who's had one sip too many of the Sailor Jerry. You know, like trying to be oh-so-quiet but really loudly yelling "SHHHHHH!" at everyone. That's the way enough slipped karate-chopped into my mind today.

Like this morning, when everyone's getting ready in the morning and we're in a hurry because I wanted just five more minutes of sleep and hit the wrong side of the alarm. Am I packing enough in their lunch? Have they eaten enough for breakfast? Do I have enough time to get them to school by eight a.m.? (And did everyone have enough time to brush their hair? No? Alrighty then.)

Or at work, when we have one more thing to get done. Am I doing enough for my team (if not, can I bribe with Twix and Swedish Fish)? Do we have enough time to get the projects not just done, but done right? Am I planning ahead enough to give us the best opportunity at success?

Or like tonight, as I raced to get Boston Market (yum!) so that Dad and I can have dinner together at the nursing home. Did we pick the right place and does the nursing home do enough to care for him? Did I get enough for him to eat? Did it take too long for me to get dinner and if so, will I have enough time to have a really good visit with him before needing to get home? Does he have enough clothes for the week before I bring laundry back up? Does he have enough movies to watch, or books to read, or did I spend enough time with him so that he doesn't feel so alone today? (The answer on that last one is no, because I think no matter how much you visit, anyone in a nursing home is pretty lonely.)

And then that word skips over just as I walk in the door to a little girl who is sad because I wasn't home right after work, and now I won't have enough time to play dolls with her (Or bake. Or color. Or read.). It creeps in as I review my son's homework and realize I haven't spent enough time working on it with him this week (Seriously, he considers these things to be useable sentences?). And it's there again as my husband heads into the office to handle a shift after we've had literally eight minutes to talk about life, or rather who needs to be where after school tomorrow (Romance=no dirty dishes in the sink nowadays). 

Sometimes it's at volleyball practice where I'm so grateful we have three coaches for the team, because I definitely don't know enough about volleyball to have volunteered to coach (Hello 1994 eighth grade season, or as I like to call it, "The Last Time I Played Volleyball." Fun fact: I went to freshman year volleyball tryouts IN JEAN SHORTS.) And other times it's realizing I haven't sent in papers to school because I haven't spent enough time sifting through the giant pile that has accumulated on the dining room table.

Or it's when I avoid Facebook messenger because I know somewhere in there lurks a message from a friend who I've already postponed a night out with twice because I have something to take care of and I can't handle the embarrassment of not making enough time to even spend a night with her. (Love you ladies, you know who you are.)

I think that's one of our greatest concerns as mothers, as parents, as children, as friends. What makes enough enough? And what exactly is enough?

Lately, I feel like perhaps the word enough has been just beyond my vocabulary, and I wonder when he next time will be that I feel like I'm not afraid of hearing that particular word. Because right now, I'm staring at this computer wondering if I'll get enough sleep to handle enough of tomorrow.

Then I realize that somewhere in all the enough I think I'm lacking, there really is enough. Life isn't always perfect, but it's perfectly chaotic and amidst all of it, no matter how much you think you're lacking in the enough department, someone else feels differently. Like when I come to my room after my shower to find a note on my bed.

"Mommy, I love you! I know you are busy but it's because everyone needs a little bit of your love. Thank you for loving me and giving birth to me." (I love those last words - ha! You are so welcome, little one!)

Sigh. Even if I don't always have enough to give, I definitely get more than enough in return.

Happy end of the week, everyone! Here's some of her cute notes that keep people smiling ;)

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

This mom does NOT have it all together...

Someone said to me yesterday, "You really have it together with the photos and the crafting and the working." A very sweet compliment, but I hope no one takes Facebook to be a true reflection of the daily life of a person. Facebook - and all social media - are fun little avenues to express sentiments about daily life, but they are by no means all-inclusive. Because honestly - who is gonna want to hear me (or anyone) rant and rave about the 87 moments of crap and frustration that happen to a person daily between their few sweet and peppy Facebook posts?!

Let me tell you about my true day, the one you won't see on social media. 

I typically wake-up around 6:30 a.m. and proceed to the daily argument with Peyton about her uniform. The socks are too itchy or the skirt is too long or the shirt is too big. Same uniform argument every. single. morning. Same explanation every. single. morning. I don't make the uniforms. I don't make the rules. Just put the darn thing on! Then I drop the kids off - usually without remembering to make sure Peyton brushed her hair or Alex actually packed a snack but hey, the fact that they get to school on time every day counts for something, right?

On to work (where I love what I do!), and it's a full eight hours and sometimes lunch of working to get my to-do list and the "this just popped up" list done. Or started. Or re-prioritized, lol.

Rush home after work to visit dad in the nursing home, profusely thanking whoever was kind enough to drive kid 1 to an activity while hubs drives kid 2 to their activity, and maybe run an errand or two because it's two weeks later and I still haven't managed to get kid 2's sweet friend the rest of their birthday present. Yes, you read that right. Two. Weeks. Later. Sorry CarGar, it's coming. Chit chat with the nurses about how he was that day, because I want to know the people taking care of him - and I want them to know I'm paying attention.

Manage to forget one of your best friend's birthdays. Check. Sorry Linds.

Pick kid 1 up and take them home where, if they're lucky, there is food in the fridge because between everything else, we haven't gotten to the store in like, a week and a half. I seriously sent my kid to school with three different kinds of crackers for snack because I didn't have enough of any one to make a full snack.

Then it's bath time for the kiddos while hubs and I spend the 15 minutes we have before he leaves for his shift talking about what we need to get done tomorrow, usually interrupted by a kid with wet hair standing in a towel in the kitchen and crying because it's bed time and yet again, I haven't been able to play dolls with her like I promised. 

This is usually followed by a continuous stream from the kids of "Did you fill out this school form?" No. "Did you send in this check?" Forgot. "Can you help me answer this question on my homework?" Um, say what now? What kind of math is that, anyway?! "Did you remember to send the scooter to school that you've been promising the drama club teacher for the past two months?" Oh boy, no. 

On some nights during the times Dad is in the nursing home or hospital instead of home, bedtime is followed by a phone call from Dad who, unfortunately during the not-so-good days, calls because he can't remember where he is and he's scared and lonely. I remind him he's at the nursing home, and tell him if he really needs some company I can try and find someone to sit with the kids (because my step-mom's already been there for hours and same with my brother). Or, on the particularly frustrating days, I realize I'm arguing with him and shouldn't be because he can't help what he said. Yelling at your dad on his worst day? Oh, yeah, I've been there. Daughter of the year. Dad and I don't always get along or see eye to eye, but despite everything, he's still my dad and I HATE to see him suffering the way he has and I truly hate to see him in the nursing home, no matter how good the people there are. Sometimes, he's okay and he calms down with just some stories of the good old days. And on rare occasions, he just really needs someone to come back and sit there and hold his hand and watch Barney Fife tell lame jokes alongside Andy Griffith, so it's time to see if someone can just come sit with the kids for a little while.

Then to wrap up the night, I post a video on Facebook of a cute puppy or my kid's play or some inspirational quote that probably wasn't even said by the person it's attributed to, just so I have some happy sanity to the end of my day. It definitely doesn't mean I have it all together; it just means that's the only part you see. And that's okay, because no one needs more drama! I'm willing to bet a lot of people have days just like this, and they post the happy moments because isn't that what everyone on social media does? Being a mom and a wife and a daughter and a friend isn't 24/7 flowers and puppies and sunshine. But damn if we don't need all those frustrating little parts of our day to remind us to share the good moments, because those good moments seem just a little bit sweeter than usual.

Sending hugs to all the moms out there who don't have it all together - you've got this!

The Reality of Parenthood

I don't know if you watch This Is Us, but I do. Every week. Like clockwork. Maybe I relate to it because like Randall, I have anxiety. Maybe I relate to it because I'm 36 and still trying to figure out what I want to do with my life. Maybe it's because it reminds me that we are all full of happiness and regret. It's probably a mix of all three of those reasons. Regardless, this scene had me a little more emotional:

It's no secret Dad's been in and out of the hospital and nursing home the past year and a half, and luckily, it's not cancer and there's no timeline looming. But it's sure made me think about a lot of things because after losing Mom, Dad's battle has reminded me of just how valuable time with your parents really is, whether the time you have left is hours or years. It will just never be long enough.

I have a new appreciation for my parents since I've had my own children. Perhaps the most important thing I've learned is that parents are not perfect. They make good choices and bad choices; they have answers and sometimes they don't; sometimes they do their best and sometimes they're just trying to get by. 

I remember being upset when Dad missed a major tournament we were in for softball in high school. As a parent, I know that sometimes we don't get to see those games not because we don't want to, but because a job or a sibling or an ailing parent takes precedence over attendance, as unwanted and unfair as that might be. And I remember the time I was angry with mom for forgetting to pick me up at ballet class; as a parent, I know that sometimes we are juggling so many balls that something falls through the cracks, and sometimes that thing is the most important part of our lives. It happens. 

As a parent, I've also learned:
  • That my own views don't always mesh with my parents, just as my views don't always mesh with my kiddos (and probably will continue that trend long into the future). That doesn't always mean they're wrong or I'm wrong; it means they were raised and then raised me to have my own thoughts and opinions. And despite our differences and our frustrations with each other, I can rest assured that they love me no matter what and vice versa.
  • Disappointment can and will happen - on both ends. There are certainly times my parents have disappointed me, and I know there have been times I've disappointed them. How we react to those times and grow and move forward is key.
  • You cherish the good times, because they are what will get you through the bad. When Dad is having tough days and nothing is going right and we're both frustrated beyond comprehension, we fall back on talking about fishing escapades and card games, funny stories or family ancestry. Those are the things that, no matter how awful we're feeling, can bring that sliver of silver lining back to the moment at hand.
  • Parents don't always do everything right. Parents are human, they (we) make mistakes. And we don't see those mistakes until years later, when we're able to look back and see how we might have done something differently. And we can only hope that we raise our children to be better than we were so that in our older years, we might be able to make memories that usurp the ones we aren't so fond of.
Perhaps this is all part of why I really enjoy This Is Us. Seeing Randall and his father put the past aside and learn to thrive in the present is a reminder that we cannot move on and find peace if we cannot let go of the past. There's always room for more laughter.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day, my love.

My mom, the wise woman she was, always said if you could find the one person to complete your heart, you were lucky. Today, I'm thinking about how a number like one can bring so many other numbers to your life. 

Did you know one can become greater than 5,000? As of today, I've loved to for 14 years, 7 months, and 4 days. That's 5,333 days, to be exact. Although if I'm being honest, I fell in love with you the day I met you at Jose's apartment. So let's just up that number to 5,722. 

And 1+1 does equal 2 - two sweet, sassy, independent, funny, and sometimes aggravating kiddos. We've been parents for 4,082 of those 5,722 days. Because of you, 100% of my dreams of motherhood came true. 

10 will be another magic number in 2.5 months. We've been married for 3,580 days, which is 9 years, 9 months, and 17 days (a bit more than a quarter of our lives). And, at least on my end, I bet I've been happy about that for about 3,570 (oh come on, you're thinking the same thing).

We've probably had 1,000 disagreements, but 30,000 laughs; more than a full hand of hospital trips (thanks to bats and car accidents) and home repairs (so, what will break down next?!), but 10x as many happy and healthy adventures throughout the U.S. We've cried thousands of tears over miscarriages and family and friends lost too soon, but shared tens of thousands of smiles with the amazing family and friends in our lives.

There always seems to be a lot more pluses than minuses with you. Because of you, the hard times shrink while the good multiply. And I cannot wait to love you on day 5,723 - and day 5,724 (and so on, and hopefully thousands more!) Thank you for adding more to my life with every additional day. 

Love always, 
Your +1




Monday, January 23, 2017

A box of tissue

One morning when my son woke up, he had the beginnings of a cold. He had one simple request.

"Mom, tonight, would you please bring home a box of tissue? A box just for me?"

It seems like a really small request, doesn't it? And something that yes, I can very easily do on my way home from work. 

It might seem silly, but the thought crossed my mind that even as a simple request, it is a sign of how blessed our family is. Yes, we are blessed to be able to bring home a box of tissues. When I tuck him into bed with his tissues there next to him, I know that while he may feel icky with his cold, he'll still feel safe and secure. He won't be worried about if he'll have tissues tomorrow, because he knows he will.  

I hope that as he grows, he really understands how important that box of tissues is. There are so many children going to bed tonight - some tucked in gently and others tucking themselves in - who will fall asleep unsure of what tomorrow will bring. They'll worry if they'll have the basic necessities to make it through the day. Instead of sweet dreams, concern will fill their mind. Will they have food for their lunchbox or perhaps be embarrassed at school because their lunch account is empty? Will their clothes be clean? Will anyone notice they wore that shirt twice already this week? Will someone make fun of them carrying their books to school in their hands because they can't afford a backpack? 

There are many issues to address in today's world. As we watch the media and Facebook and the many other avenues of communication fill our lives with what's happening across the country and the globe, I hope that in 2017, we can all make an effort to add one more task onto our lists: creating a better community in which to live. 

Let's start small. 

Let's pick up one extra box of tissues to donate to a local women's and children's shelter so when a child has a stuffy nose, mom can provide him that small comfort that she might not be able to, because she's already deciding whether to use her last $20 to buy food or new shoes for school.

Let's buy a few extra cans of soup or vegetables and drop them off to the local food pantry. It doesn't seem like much, but it means a little something extra in someone's stomach for the night.

Let's clip the coupon for the diapers out of the Sunday paper and pick up a pack for a local shelter. Then maybe a mom can pick up a clean blouse for an interview instead of passing over an interview that would help her better care for her family because she has nothing nice to wear.

We don't have to save the world in one day (although that would be nice). What we can do is start small, start at home, and teach our children how to care about the others in the city they live in. Then maybe someday, tissues won't be considered a luxury.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Oh, American Girl.

Oh, American Girl, I have to give you guys props, even though I have a complaint. It's not about your cost (hey, if people will pay mega-bucks for your brand, more power to ya), but rather how incredibly well you've developed your product and infiltrated my home.

We made the decision five years ago that we weren't going to have anymore babies. While it was a little sad to know that the baby days were over, I was also looking forward to the fun we would have as a family of four. And by fun, I mean not having to carry around a diaper bag or bottle bag again as the kids were potty trained.

My youngest is eight years old and has been potty trained for years. Yet here we are and I'm back to carrying around everything I was so excited to move on from.

Yesterday, I found myself at the grocery store with aforementioned kid asking if she can push the full cart. Sure, I say. To which she hands me her American Girl doll, strapped into a doll car-seat carrier, and a dolly diaper bag.

"Oh, how cute!" you say. Nope. Nope, nope, nope. You'd think a dolly diaper bag would be small, right? No way. This thing is only slightly smaller than an average human-baby sized diaper bag. And it's legit filled with the following: diapers, fake wipes, multiple clothing changes, burp clothes, bibs, an extra blanket, fake bottles, fake snacks, silverware and dishes to eat the fake snacks, shoes, doll-sized baby toys... you get the drift. (Thank goodness most of our stuff comes second-hand or we make clothes for them, like we did in a few of these pics!)

And here I am, 3 29-years-old (Again. And again. And some more agains.) and carting around a doll and all of her goods. (Which honestly, yesterday wasn't as bad as when she doesn't have the doll car seat carrier, because I end up holding the doll and bouncing and just look like the crazy doll lady picking out her groceries.)

Now, I love seeing my little girl playing with her dolls. (Not because "that's what little girls are supposed to play with," because little girls should play with lots of stuff, including mud and basketballs.) I love watching her care for and nurture them, with her big heart. She so carefully dresses them, tucks them in, and it's adorable. I know that those skills are helping her learn how to treat others, and helping her learn in a way she's comfortable with. And I love playing dolls with her (yes, I even have the American Girl doll Kit, my absolute favorite).

And though I complain, American Girl, you will probably find me at the grocery store next week bouncing her beloved (beat up and stained) Bitty Baby on my hip as I pick out bread for the week.

Touché, American Girl.

Score: American Girl 1, Allie 0.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

New Year's Resolutions for Moms (Or, at least, this one)

If you opened up Facebook on January 1, I'm sure you found it peppered with well intentioned resolutions for the new year. Lose weight, get fit, feed the homeless, write letters to their kids to open someday, go one more date nights. All wonderful things, no doubt. And yes, I've been guilty of jumping on the resolution bandwagon and promising I'd lose all sorts of weight or learn a new trade. In fact, I'm pretty sure that's part of where my 40 Before 40 list came from.


If you're a mom like me with younger kids (or maybe kids of any age), let's get realistic. I have an eleven year old and an eight year old who have a busier activity calendar than the Brady Bunch combined, and a full-time job. I would love to resolve to get fit, but I find the only exercise I have time for is running my mouth when I need them to get moving or walking stairs for the 15th drink of water one needs from the kitchen after bedtime. And eating right? Yeah. I'm eating right about anything I can find, including the kids' leftovers, because I'm busy packing lunches or doing dishes.

So sitting here tonight (yes, instead of exercising - I was exercising my mind), I thought about the things I AM going to resolve to do this year. How many of you moms would have a similar list?

In 2017, I resolve to...

  1. Make sure the kids actually DO brush their teeth EVERY morning before leaving for school, (I'm not saying it has to be a great brushing, but I'll take a solid 10 seconds of toothpaste touching teeth.)
  2. Watch to see that the kids leave the house entirely dressed. And yes, daughter, that includes socks. Yes socks. Yes, socks are clothes. They're made of fabric aren't they? So yes, they're clothes. Seriously, it's 10 degrees where we live, put on the socks. I don't care what socks, what color, what design. I don't even care if they match, just put them on. No, you cannot just wear the boots. (See, right about here is where I cave and say fine, wear the stupid fuzzy boots and no socks. But I'm gonna stay strong...)
  3. Actually eat more fruits. (Do Pop-Tarts count? I'm still determining the guidelines I'm putting on this one.)
  4. Watch less television. Yes, kiddo, Netflix counts as television. Yes, even if it's on a tablet. Are there people or animals, real or artistically drawn, speaking? Then it's television. It's 2017 television. Just turn it off.
  5. Do the dishes every night. (Husband, stop laughing. Just stop. Or I can tell you what won't be occurring more often in 2017.)
  6. Read a book. (Not more books. Just a book. And adult book. No, not that kind. Well, maybe. But a grown-up book, fiction or non-fiction. As in the whole thing, cover to cover. It will take me an entire year, but I'm gonna make it happen.)
  7. Paint something in the house. Not because I have to cover up wall drawings (thankfully I think we're past that phase). And not finger painting a scary, disproportionate hedgehog on a child-size easel, but a room in the house. One of the rooms we started painting eight years ago and gave up on. (Seriously. Last painted when preggo with the eight year old. Poor hubs put so much effort into painting the living room and dining room the colors I wanted - red and green - only to have his hormonal wife cry because the house looked like Christmas all year. And has every year since, because he was NOT going to take a chance on picking colors again.)
  8. Cook more at home. (Do TV dinners count? Especially if they can't watch TV while they eat?)
  9. Get more organized. Or, designate a drawer for all the stuff I know I'll pick up and say, "I'm really going to need this in three months" and then lose because I put it somewhere I'd definitely remember it was. Maybe having a designated drawer would help with that. Or closet? 
  10. Have more fun. It would be really fun to watch the kids do more chores (or ANY chores) so I think I can kill two birds with one stone by combining #9 and #10 together as I write the kiddos' chore lists.
I'm just kidding. :) Mostly. I'm not making any resolutions other than to be more present in every day life. Someday my house will be spotless (ok, not likely) and my free time will be plenty (again, not likely), and I'll be missing the chaos that has come to be our daily life (very likely). I wouldn't trade the here and now for anything; the chaos is what makes everything more fun!

Happy New Year, everyone!


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