Category Archives: Happiness

Ode to Joy

In the early years of mommyhood, it was hard to go with the flow. I didn’t know how to be a mom, I didn’t feel confident that I would be a very good one, and I felt pretty sad that I was somehow failing at something that was supposed to feel natural, beautiful, and joyful.

My lack of confidence was a hindrance. It was keeping me from becoming the mother I want to be, and it was keeping me from experiencing joy. Nowadays, I put less pressure on myself. I tell myself I’m a great mom because thinking otherwise doesn’t accomplish anything. I make mistakes, I cry, I foul up, I apologize. I live and breathe and take it all in as par for the course. I tell myself that if I’m trying too hard to be perfect, that is all my children will learn: to strive for something that is not only impossible but damaging.

So I’ve made some new goals.

My goal for each day is to find joy.

My goal for each day is to say to my children, “This is so joyful! This is so fun!” as we walk through daily life.

And we celebrate little pieces of joy all day long.

This week, the last of the leaves from our trees. My husband has just “finished” a huge rake job and then more came along. When I saw the yard, I imagined our weekend plans (getting out to the Brandywine River Museum!) quickly thwarted by a new need for leaf clean-up. (Gotta get those leaves before everything freezes and we kill the grass! Aye-ya-yay!)

Until I remembered the leaf blower…

I’m not sure why we never thought to purchase a leaf blower before. We have plenty of trees and more leaves than I can rake by myself. My dad finally bought us a Toro last year, and he was quickly overcome with joy over it’s blowing power, so he purchased himself a matching one. Needless to say, you can imagine the level of adorable that unfolded in my yard when father and daughter had matching blowers as we dominated the landscape.

Then it got packed away and I kind of forgot about it, since I thought the leaves were finished for the season.

When I remembered that we had one and where it was, another real benefit of the leaf blower became visible:

Leaf blowing is a quick route to joy and fun.

Fun is pretty incredible but I’ve always thought it’s hard to get things done with too much fun. It sounds terrible! I know! But I can hear myself saying, “No! We’ve got to get this done!” and then I’m stressing out because I’m not trying hard enough to accomplish any given task.

I’ve needed to loosen up on this idea and tell myself that the stuff on my “To Do” list isn’t going to get done until my kids are at least six. Or maybe seven. Or maybe thirteen. Or at least until child labor is considered legal (does that start at fourteen?)

All this is to say that this week when I tried to blow leaves around, we quickly reverted to just having fun. My son found an old eagles hat of mine: one of those ridiculous ski hats with the dreadlocks made out of felt and a big old Philadelphia Eagle on the front. LM1 had never seen the hat before and decided it could behave like a pair of earmuffs, which he likes to use to block out the sound of the leaf blower. In his mind, thick dreads = noise canceling (a fair assumption, I’d say).

He put the hat on and discovered that what was actually way more fun than blowing leaves was standing in front of the blower and swinging the locks in front of the nozzle so the felt dreads and the leaves would fly into his face and tickle him.

It was hilarious.

It was joyful.

It was fun.

And I can’t remember the last time I did something so merrily just because it felt good. So, here’s to joy. Here’s to getting less and less done, but feeling more joy in the process. Here’s to a messy yard and a smiling kid.

And a smiling mommy….

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Welcome to the Terrible Threes

When I decided to write a bit about “the terrible threes,” I had to think for a few minutes before writing this post: whether or not I feel comfortable calling my kid terrible, like some newly anointed member of a terrible gang called “The Terrible Threes.” Then I told myself, “It’s not him. HE is not terrible. It’s the age.” But then I thought, “No, no, it IS him…at this age.” That thought was quickly followed by, “Ohhhhh $hit! What am I gonna do?”
It’s tough sometimes to be a parent and to search for the right words– the right ways in which to describe things, trying to be as honest as I possibly can, without sugar coating because my kid is the absolute sweetest, cutest thing ever. But let’s call a thing a thing here: lately, his behaviors have been pretty darn terrible.
Word choice aside, here’s a piece of the new human we’ve seen in our home:
Everything is a battle. LM1 doesn’t want to take a shower. He’s mad I didn’t make a meal for dessert ( I don’t get that one at all– but he wanted chicken as a dessert to his steak, and I didn’t have more chicken). Then he doesn’t want to eat veggies at dinner, he doesn’t want to wear pants, he doesn’t want to go to school. Any of these items have easily and quickly become grounds for tantrums, which is super annoying to watch, heart-wrenching to feel, and deafening to hear. LM2 and I sometimes cry, ourselves, simply because the fight is so hard.
Hubs and I are using time out. We are using quiet alone time to settle down. Some days it feels so exhausting to have to do so much for so little. Each tantrum will surely spar another within a few hours or less.
I’m praying this is just a phase and that things will dissipate before they escalate. Of course, my mind is doing what it usually does: run around in circles, planning for the worst. I’m imagining that he will become compulsively defiant. I’m imagining he will become violent or aggressive with words or hands. I’m imagining he will not grow out of this phase or ever learn how to behave. He will become worse and worse until he’s become a kid no one wants to be around.
As a result of my (irrational) fears, I have started to compulsively watch episodes of Supernanny on YouTube, searching for advice and commentary on the tantruming patterns of three-year-olds, like he’s some kind of chimp scientists studied in a lab and then fed bananas to after he finally “got it.”
I am a crazy person, worrying and thinking that if I plan and learn it will somehow soften the blow of a bigger reality that haunts me: what if I have a bad kid? I’ve heard of them. Bad apples, they’re called. I tell myself he doesn’t even like apples and we’ve already dropped him before, so how can this be?
Then I tell myself I’ve officially developed what I call CLS (Chicken Little Syndrome) and the sky is falling and maybe I should just have a glass of wine and pull up a chair to grab a view of the onslaught of chaos.
After he falls asleep at night, the house becomes quiet and everything settles down into its rightful place. I play soft plinky, planky stream music, mostly featuring a lute or a harp, or some kind of American Indian flute-sounding thing. In the peace, I tell myself this will probably pass, like the days when he thought it was hilarious to throw noodles on the floor. It will pass, like the days when running into the street without looking was exhilarating.
I take a deep breath and remind myself that the only thing falling is me: off my rocker.
I have the glass of wine and decide tomorrow will be a better day. I will be stronger and better prepared. We will encounter challenges together and work through them together. We will more than survive because none of this is really a big deal at all.
With that mindset, the next day was better. The threes are less terrible. They’re not yet terrific, but something tells me that if I make up my mind that they ARE terrific, they will become terrific all on their own.
Today I am smiling. LM1 is smiling. Everyone is smiling. And we are settling into peace before bedtime, searching for it throughout the day.
And it is slowly working.
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Out of the Dumps

This is me, only my lips are smaller because I don’t have injections like the Kardashian people.

The weather is starting to chill and I can feel myself getting nervous as winter approaches. How terrible that I smell a breeze and my mind goes to the dreary-wearies, I KNOW! I’m the worst. I’m like the Pout-Pout Fish in that silly book my kids love!

Winter is coming.

I say this phrase aloud and then laugh because it feels so much more ominous now that we’ve become Game of Throners and we expect winter to bring war and carnage. Metaphorically, of course.

But I get down in the cold weather. If I feel my nose chill a little bit, I think, “Oh, dear! In no time at all, we’ll be bundled in hats and snowsuits! HELP!”

I’ve started a little mental list to help combat this silliness. It goes like this:

1.) Dance to Pharrell’s “Happy.” LM1 loves this song and so do I. He’s at the top of our playlist and we love to hold hands and bounce as high as possible while spinning in a circle. This brings up the smile count, immediately.

2.) Start sweating. I wear more sweaters than I need to and ask the kids to go for a walk with me. In no time at all, we’re wishing for a cooler breeze and catching our breaths in a pile of leaves.

3.) Get out the leaf blower. I mean, is there anything more fun that watching your kids fall down because you “accidentally” blew in their direction? (Sry, LM2, but you look like a Teletubby and it’s adorable).

4.)  Bake cookies. If there’s one great thing about winter it’s SWEATER SEASON…..and that means covering up! Bring on the COOKIES! Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe EVER. Right here! Wanna know my secret surprise? Use more brown sugar than white and use chocolate chunks instead of chips. Also, be sure to refrigerate your dough for an hour or two before scooping onto the baking sheet. YUM

5.) Sign up for swim lessons at the heated pool. YES! It’s like a bathtub, but it feels cleaner because it smells cleaner.Thank you, chlorine. And only other moms go there for the mommy-and-me swim class, so I don’t have to wear a bikini! I can wear a long-sleeved rash guard-looking thing from Athleta and NO ONE CARES. Amazing.

How are YOU going to beat the cold?!!?

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A New Natural State- Loving the Little Things

Love this day of tossing lettuce at the ducks. Amazing.

There are a few things in life that return me to what I have always thought of as “my natural state.” This phrase is simply my way of saying I’m blissed out– finding that peaceful space in my heart that is old and familiar, joyful and quiet. This feeling is something that had become less common since the little ones came along. It was just plain hard to get into my comfort zone and feel like myself.

Perhaps that sounds strange or sad– but having small children means there are more than a handful of things I cannot do for the duration and quantity of times I used to do them. This is not something to grieve– or perhaps it is, to a reasonable extent.
These pieces of my natural self felt lost:
– not getting out on the boat to read for 3-6 hours with Hubs at the bow.
– not working out at the gym for 2 hours at a time (let’s be honest– some days I’m lucky to get 15 minutes before a sweet older woman in a blue polo comes to remove me from the elliptical machine because “your baby won’t stop crying without you.”)
– not swimming by myself at the beach for an hour because, inevitably, someone wants to swim with mommy. (Still thankful that someone has yet to be a shark.)
– not taking time for simple pleasures like sipping coffee alone in a bookshop and perusing the aisles for new authors and titles means leaving my kids with someone who is not me.
– not writing. Because when I try to write while anyone in the house is awake (man, woman, boy, girl, infant, houseplant) I am distracted quickly by the other things I need to accomplish to keep our house afloat (no, we don’t live on a houseboat, but how many dishes in the sink is “too many?”). This means I write and rewrite, then I get frustrated, then I hate the paragraph I constructed, then I’m angry because I think this makes me a terrible writer– that I can’t write amidst chaos and noise.
Swallowing these facts over the years made this mom frustrated and resentful about it— which became so engulfing that I started to crave the feelings of frustration and resentment. THEY started to feel like my natural state.
WHAT?!!?
Yea.
Seriously. And, sadly.
I wanted to feel sorry for myself that life had changed– and fell into the seeming comforts of the “you’ve got it so toughs!” And the “it’s so hard for new mommys” and the “lets cry togethers.”
But those feelings didn’t get me so far. They distracted me from blissing out over new, intoxicatingly beautiful moments with my kids. They slapped me in the face and made me cry, and the pain took me away from catching the most incredible new memories we were forming as a family. Feeling sad and frustrated were normal and natural, but I let them take over. They distracted me from seeing that my natural state of being was changing, growing, and morphing in exciting ways.
My new self is a pretty decent mommy. What has felt, at times (too many times, if I’m being honest) like draining self-sacrifice has actually been an awakening toward a more mature, fuller, wholer (yes that’s a word (ok, no, I don’t think that’s a word)), less make-up wearing, more bra-free self.
Life is born in perspective. I was so busy mourning my former self that I forgot to welcome my new self. So my natural state, my blissed self, now includes recognizing and working on the following:
Real Fact: Life is different now.
Real Fact: I need to be more flexible. Everyday. Always. Endlessly.
Real Fact: My natural state is different than it used to be, but it doesn’t make me unnatural.
Real Fact: I can swallow my pride (ugh, literally my least favorite pastime!) and let myself go so I can become the me I have been waiting to become for a long time.
My natural state can appreciate:
– seeing my kid pantomime a pitch from the pitcher’s mound. While he cannot say pitcher, mound, swing, or miss, his heart and physical self are practicing for what’s to come
– reading books for 45 minutes with little men who don’t know how much mommy loves to read, but who love it all their own because we get to snuggle and ask each other questions (this week, particularly, about dinosaurs)
– seeing LM1 finally ride the tricycle uphill on his own– without even noticing the amazingness of his accomplishment, as if he was born to always do it
– hearing LM1 ask to visit family members we haven’t seen in a while because his memory and acknowledgment of love are so pure and natural, he merely has to ask and receive its sweetness
– seeing LM2 rebound from a fall like it was no big deal because, arent they all?
– admitting when I need a break, calling a grandparent, and accepting help from others
What have you noticed about yourself this week!?
#amazingrevelations
#blissedout
#timetogrowup
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Slowing Down

I came across something recently that I thought to share. I read In Praise of Stay-at-Home Moms, by Dr. Laura Schlessinger. I’m not one for uber-conservative, traditional thinking, but the title grabbed me just enough that I felt compelled to buy and read the book. I knew NOTHING about Dr. Laura or her radio-empire. So, it was an interesting read, needless to say.

I can’t say I would absolutely, resolutely recommend the book. I’m not into telling women what to do with their lives. I’m not into preaching at anyone to say that one way of living or behaving is better than another. So, some of Dr. Laura’s words fell flat for me. Hyper-generalizing the human experience feels so unfair. But my big take-away from her book has been in my heart for a few weeks now. I am playing something over and over again in my mind.

Dr. Laura admits that being home with the kiddies can be difficult sometimes. She acknowledges that the doldrums and monotony of housework and childcare can sometimes overwhelm. And although it sounds kind of simple, her solution for that was:

Play with your kids. 

She talks about the benefit of slowing down, relaxing, and letting yourself play with the kids. This made me consider how interesting it is that we’ve changed a woman’s title from “House Wife” to “Stay-at-Home-Mom.” One idea behind the change, as I understand it, is to acknowledge that the primary focus of the day should be on the children. We are moms before we are home managers. We are not home to clean and keep the house in order so much as we are home to care for our children in the best way possible.

When I feel like I’m failing, when I feel exhausted when I feel like I can’t get anything right, I have been thinking about that as my purpose and role:

To play with the kids. 

It’s my job to teach them, to show them, to speak with them, to share with them. It’s not my job to keep a perfect home or to make sure I finish every single thing on my To-Do list. It’s my job to raise beautiful, compassionate, self-aware, well-rounded children. And since kids learn through play, love, and attention, that’s where my energy can go when I’m bored, tired, or disenchanted.

I get down on the floor, pull out a toy we haven’t used in a while and use my imagination. I get creative. I force something up from deep down inside myself and look for the childish spirit that needs time to sprint around.

So, I’ve tried to follow through on that. I’ve worked to bring the idea into other areas of my life. When I’m just feeling plum out-of-it or a little blue, I look for some fun. I look for the things that make me feel more myself. I let myself laugh and giggle and play. The kids are learning by my example to turn a bad mood into something fun and uplifting.

I’ve even recommended the thought to Hubs. If he’s worn down, less enthusiastic, less himself, I say, “Let’s go have some fun.” We drop our projects and find something exciting to recharge our batteries.

A little play every day.

It sounds so simple, and yet, how often do I make time for real fun? Being a grown up gets a little less than sometimes.

What fun stuff have you been up to? What’s making you smile, laugh, or giggle with glee?

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Why Is Being Tired the Start of Craziness?

Whenever I get tired I start to lose my ability to function. I know this sounds obvious. Human beings need rest. We all do. But I have always been astounded at my husband’s ability to function, even when he is really tired. So I know there are humans out there who can handle exhaustion with considerably more grace than I can.

I was built differently somehow. I become beastly-monster-woman. Rationality escapes me. Short, punctuated puffs of air escape my nostrils, and no one thinks I resemble Daenerys Targaryen; they think I’m one of the dragons. And they’re probably right.

My red eyes, my menacing snarl, my desire to eat anyone who pisses me off…..I get it.

But the funny thing to me is that I entirely lose my ability to keep myself together, too. I’m not just in a bad mood: all kinds of weird and crazy things start to happen, one right after the other, none of which happened in the weeks before. Ridiculous events unfold in a matter of hours, swooping me up into what feels like a cloud of complete chaos.

Over the course of a few days, here are the ridiculous things that happened. And I PROMISE I will get some rest. And Dragon Mommy will disappear shortly.

1.) The soccer ball went into the toilet bowl. And then into the mouth of a babe. Wow #Ineedquickerreactiontime
2.) LM2 cracked my second pair of eye glasses in a month
3.)  LM2 colored on the sofa with crayons (that was a first for us)
4.) My kid squirted a stranger kid in the face with a water gun and threw a tantrum over being punished for this and having the water gun taken away (which wasn’t even ours! he swiped it from someone else!) — in public– for twenty minutes– and then tried to hug the kids for another five after the fact. Talk about split personality.
5.) I lost my cell phone.
6.) I found my cell phone– but it was outside in the rain, so it went into a bag of rice for 36 hours. Then I got rice stuck in the charge port of my cell phone and could not charge it. I’m thinking a paper clip should do the trick…
7.) I tried to go to bed early last night but was quickly rerouted by LM2’s vomit explosion. We will not feed him certain things in the future as a result of this one #lessonlearned
8.) I got kicked in the face by LM1 because (a) he didn’t want to take a shower and (b) he said the water was too hot, which I tried to explain is a fixable problem, but he didn’t believe me until I could prove it via faucet handle, after he settled down.
9.) I ordered dinner out but forgot to tell my husband where I ordered from. And my cell phone wasn’t working (I called from the laptop). Then I took the kids for a walk (because they were driving me crazy). So he had to drive around looking for us, finally found us, picked up the food, and everything was a little soggy and cold cuz it had been waiting for like 40 minutes after it was all said and done #whoops
10.) I fell at a wedding this past weekend and flashed the guests. With my nakedness. Like, the whole kit and caboodle #I’mtoooldforthis #you’rewelcome

All of this clearly means tomorrow will be an AMAZING day. I mean that seriously. I believe it! #herewego #keepcalmandcarryon

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DIY Bliss = Marital Bliss??? WTF

So, I think all the time about the things that make a marriage work…..and the things that make it not work. It’s a slippery slope sometimes, like any relationship. I used to think that fighting with my spouse, disagreeing, or getting into a bad mental place together was a sign that I had done something wrong. I would keep a running checklist in my mind, just waiting to get enough cons on the page to convince myself I was not marriage material.

This sounds so terrible to me as I write it, but it’s the truth. For many of our early years together, I just kept waiting to drop the shoe (because I was sure it would be ME to do so) all so I could prove once and for all that I was a terrible wife. I absolutely, positively do not attribute this bad attitude to my exposure to divorce, friends, family, media, crappy movies, or otherwise.

I was just a negative person.

I couldn’t measure up to my own ridiculous expectations because I hated all the traditional wifey things: cooking, cleaning, crafting, DIYing, hosting parties, gardening, interior decorating, baking, becoming a SAHM, etc. Mind you, I did all of those things but complained all the while.

SOOOOOOO WHAT HAPPENED???

It’s so lovely!!! Do you love it??? Ugh, I just love it!

What’s changed is my attitude. My frame of mind. My interest in being honest with myself and my spouse all of the time, without excuse. And what was the result? I’ve started to LOVE the things I hated. I LOVE gardening. WTF. I love anything with a pop of color (welcome to my planter, coleus), or an interesting texture (please grow here, astibles), or a fun characteristic (creeping thyme is beautiful AND you can walk on it!). I never expected to find myself in this new state of mind, but it’s working for me, which is working for Hubs.

And that leads me to DIY bliss….

As far as I was concerned, DIYing is super lame, more expensive than claimed to be, unprofessional looking, imperfect, and frustrating. I also thought I was not clever enough to attack projects because I never used to make anything on my own, aside from a Thank You card or maybe a delivery pizza order (ok, I never really did that because of my lactose sensitivity, but you get the picture).

This year I really wanted to find a new headboard for our bedroom. I don’t know why this struck me as important, let alone obsession worthy. But I started Googling and Pinteresting and started to dream about what I might like.

Saved from interiorbarndoors.org

Hubs encouraged me to find exactly what I might like. I think I surprised everyone (mostly myself) when I fell in love with a barn door headboard that wasn’t really even a headboard. It just looked so farmy to me, which is not a bad thing at all, but that has never been very “me.” But this headboard was beautiful. And I wanted to live in a more natural, peaceful, elemental space.

I started shopping and came across some old barn doors I thought we could paint or shellac until I learned they were $500 each. I hadn’t even sold the previous headboard in our bedroom yet, but I didn’t think I’d hit that $500 mark, let alone $1,000. But without blinking, Hubs said, “We can make that. That looks easy.”

Easy is now my favorite word. Let me help you with the definition of easy here, because I needed help learning what “easy” means:

Easy doesn’t mean fast.
It doesn’t mean simple.
It doesn’t mean perfect or even close to perfect.
It doesn’t necessarily mean cheap, either.
It just means do-able.
And now that know what easy means, I love it when we look at something as a couple, give each other that special smile and say, “Yea, that looks easy.”

Our easy-to-craft headboard was finally built out of pallet wood, all of which we hoarded and then broke down ourselves. We bought some fresh wood for the main framing and stained all the wood with a light gray. Well, that’s not entirely true: I thought I ruined it with a stain that was way too dark. So we stripped that, power sanded, and tried again (thank you, Home Depot Paint Man, for your assistance with that one).

We argued about the order in which we worked on the project. We moaned over working too late at night (cuz power tools and my little ones don’t really mix, so we were relegated to working from 8-11 p.m.). We argued about how to cut the wood at specific angles. We griped when we ruined or split certain pieces of wood. We fought about where to store the power tools and how to keep the garage tidy over our weeks and months of projecting.

We also brainstormed together. We laughed. We listened to music and danced while we worked. We teased one another about decisions and watched each other work in awe and interest…seeing new sides of one another. We looked forward to the evenings when the kids were asleep and we could stow away to the garage for a few hours to work on our little project. We built something together. Now we can look every day at something that signifies our ability to act as a team and to create. And ultimately, we had FUN.

It sounds silly, maybe. This little project that turned into something else. But it was great. It was messy and imperfectly perfect (I swear one side is still uneven). It was a little piece of magic we conjured up, and it was bliss.

What are you doing these days that makes your marriage sing? Share, share, share!

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On Loving Yourself

Ok, so, I guess I should just confess it right off the bat….

I don’t know that I l-o-v-e love myself. I like myself. I think I’m pretty decent. I’m a HIP. A Human In Progress. I have flaws and weaknesses, I have some strengths. My strengths are super cool (ie- I make well-timed, appropriately hilarious, well-delivered comments to my husband when NO ONE ELSE is looking or even nearby, my impromptu dance skillz are Uhhh-mazing, etc). My weaknesses suck (I’m not going to list my weaknesses here!!! Silly, silly.)

Oh, I should probably mention that the topic of loving yourself came up recently when I picked up a book called, You Are a Badass, by Jen Sincero. To be a true badass, I need to LOVE myself. Like, LOVE love. Like, want to spend the rest of my life with myself, and commit to myself forever and ever.

So it got me thinking…Can I say I love myself? I don’t think so. That’s, like, the wrong word. I would say I’m a fan of my work, and I’m curious to see what will develop in my peak years. I would say I’m an admirer of my life attempts.

Truth: uhhhhh…….I don’t think so. That’s, like, the wrong word. I would say I’m a fan of my work, and I’m curious to see what will develop in my peak years (which I assume will be when I’m 40). I would say I’m an admirer of my life attempts.

I guess this is problematic. Because more so than I want to be a badass, I want to teach my kids to love themselves. I want them to know the pure, simple joy of trusting yourself and loving that you are your own best instrument for success. But we can’t teach what we can’t model. I feel pretty confident about that fact.

What’s more is that as I’ve become a mother, there are new, different things I have to learn to love about myself. I used to be a different person before the kids. I was always on time. I was always clean, tidy, neat, showered. Now I’m…..uhhh….what’s that word? FORGETFUL. I think that’s the word I wanted to use.

I’m also moving in more directions. I’m prioritizing differently. I’m monitoring my thinking, my reactions, my attitude, my behavior. Because now I have an audience for everything that I do. So I’m a little guarded, and sometimes, that means a little less confident. While I would like to love myself (should I say I’d love to love myself?) most days I feel like I don’t even know myself. I’m under construction. I’m morphing and changing and growing, and I’m not ready to commit to this new version of myself yet.

Have any other new moms felt this way? That suddenly, you are a different woman, and you’re confused and feeling completely like, “Who am I now???” “Who are my kids going to think I am?” It’s completely likely that I am overthinking this, ahem, example of one of my weaknesses. Ok, there, I said it. I CANNOT be the only one though, right?!?!?

So, if a wisdom fairy were to float into my house, I’m sure she would say something like this:

Stop it. Just stop right now.
You either love yourself or you don’t.
You don’t wait until you become more loveable. Because when the hell is that supposed to happen?
Jump on this gravy train right now, and decide to start loving yourself TODAY.

So I guess if I want to be a badass, I need to suck it up and start the love-fest.
Orrrrrr…maybe I just want to be a badbutt. Or a badbottom. Or a badrump. Maybe those are, like, the baby steps I can work toward.

If Beyonce were around to teach me to power pose correctly, I feel pretty confident that I would NAIL IT.

No. That just won’t work. So, here’s my task:
I will wake up every day and smile at myself. Regardless of what I see in the mirror, I will smile and say, “Go get it, girl.” I will mean it. And on some days, I will play the Star Wars Soundtrack and tell myself that is almost as good as power posing.

Here’s to trying something new. Every day.

#workit

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My Cup Runneth Over

Lately I’ve been having these completely ridiculous moments in the quiet of my home when I look around and feel utterly speechless and overcome with emotion. It’s hard to describe, but here’s me trying to do so anyway:

I’ll be rinsing a dish or putting junk away in a drawer, and I’ll see the kids doing nothing special. Little Man #1 will color or push a truck or make the noises he’s learned motorcycles make. (It sounds like his Popop snoring…) Little Man #2 will spit up or giggle or coo or cry over the latest toy LM#1 has shoved into his face. And a thick red ball of unnameable hot something will crawl up into my throat. My eyes start to water and though I don’t cry, I know I could easily enough if I let myself.  But I don’t. Because I’m scrubbing a dish or putting junk away. I finish what I’m doing, let out a short puff of air, and smile. I feel inextricably like the luckiest person in the world. I am humbled by this stupidly simple but very very very perfect moment. I strangely feel part of something larger than myself, standing in my kitchen, shaking the water and peanut butter remnants from a bowl.

This is insane, in part, because I know I’m not actually the luckiest person. I’m one of many whose hearts swell over the simple blessings in life. I am like every other mom who wonders just how her kid got peanut butter into his eyebrows, but missed the cup I’m rinsing.

But in these strange, overwhelming, emotionally charged moments what is so fascinating to me is this: being a part of something bigger than myself was always supposed to be working for a nonprofit that resuscitated a community or brought clean water to the Congo.  I studied my butt off in school so that I could someday impact humanity in a real way, feeling driven by my need to effect change.

And then I’m in my kitchen. And I want to cry because the boys are beautiful and healthy. No one has a brain tumor, no one is hurting or crying, and no one is throwing applesauce at me. I’m not doing anything seemingly constructive for the good of the planet, or for civilization at large, but somehow, I’m nearly crying over how beautiful life is.

SOOO, I blame my hormones. I tell myself that one day after we’ve finished breastfeeding, I will return to my normal, rationale way of thinking, and something as silly as rinsing a dish will go back to just being what it is: a household chore that makes the house look less messy.

In the meantime, I’ll keep feeling my heart swell. And I’ll keep thinking that being home with them is maybe slightly less lame than I thought it was when I decided to stay home. Even if it means crying– or almost crying– as often as I do now.

#livingthedream #lifeisfunny #aintitgrand

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A Perfect Sunday

One of the trickiest things about juggling two little ones, for me, is managing a schedule. Because the babes nap at different times and eat all day long (Baby #2 is holding strong at every 2-3 hours now that his reflux meds are working) it can be tough to get everyone loaded into a car and find enough time to really enjoy something.

The best way to enjoy a sunny Sunday is to:

(1) have a plan. I need to know where I’m going and what time I need to leave the house. This is excessively annoying sometimes, but without the impetus to get up and get going, we’ll never get anywhere fast enough to ensure time for fun. Does that sound ridiculous? It is, I can assure you. But it works for us.

(2) alter expectations that the entire day will be spent in any one place. This simply cannot be if the kids are going to get naps. A great day is really two half days. And let’s face it, naps are crucial if we want to make it to bedtime without a meltdown. I can handle a meltdown, but I don’t particularly want to. I prefer tuna melts to toddler melts.

(3) pack lunches, snacks, and changes of clothes the night before.

(4) have a second plan in place in case of rain. Because sometimes sunny Sunday becomes shitty Sunday.

ChesLenPRES-11This weekend we really lucked out. The weather was perfect, we woke up after a mostly restful evening, and everyone was ready to roll by 10 a.m. This gave us 3 whole hours before naps and cranky time. The bitty baby naps in the car and falls asleep in his car seat, so we can get him out so long as there is a quiet spot to nurse him at points throughout the morning.

image1 (5) The perfect spot today was The ChesLen Preserve, out in Coatesville, PA. This gorgeous property sits on the Brandywine Creek and provides trails and shade where we could all splash and play, fish, and picnic. There are always lots of dogs playing in the creek, canoes and kayaks rolling by, and bicyclists traveling on the roads above the creek. It’s nature at its finest.

IMG_6776It’s incredible when everything works out just right and everyone feels happy and pleased with themselves. Little Man #1 caught a fish with Daddy’s rod, and searched out a crayfish with his bucket and net.  He threw rocks into the creek and floated on his belly.

image2 (3)Little Man #2 nursed well in the shade and fell asleep going and coming to our spot by the water’s edge. He loved facing outward in his Baby Bjorn Carrier, and watched while Daddy fished with a pole right in front of him.

A beautiful, safe, tranquil spot like this is why I moved to Pennsylvania. I love nature, I love water, and I love family time. It was a perfect day, and it made me smile to think how lucky we were to have it. I’m so thankful. A little planning on the front end goes a long way…

What are you thankful for lately?

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