January 28, 2014

The Happy Mama Movement

With the dawn of a New Year has come the dawning of new goals of self improvement. January has just flown by, even without any significant stresses or events. Improving my health, working out, calories, weight, measurements...it's easy to get caught up in it all. I feel like when I really focus on one aspect of my life, other aspects suffer.


But here's the deal. No matter how hard I push myself, I still feel like I have no control. I struggle with this never ending need to get on a certain path and as soon as I feel I'm gaining some traction on my path, I get some clear reminder that nothing about improving my life will come easy.

One thing that comes easy for me, though? Noticing the little things, focusing on the things that make me happy and grasping on to them for dear-freaking-life when everything else seems like debris just aimlessly flying around my life. 

My brain just knows. It knows how to find the little things. Or maybe it's my heart. Yeah. It's my heart. My heart does this thing of slowing down time just enough for me to see how great it all really is, giving my brain a second to take a snapshot and take a deep metaphorical breath.

Little moments like this:
- Having Julian fall asleep in my arms after a long trip to the Muir Woods. His eyes were half open, he was snoring. I just couldn't stop staring at his magical little face.

- As much as I hate to admit it- watching the boys enter new stages of childhood. For Isaiah it's the climbing and getting into everything he shouldn't stage. For Julian, it's the hitting stage. I hate these stages but I love watching my babies grow.

- Listening to the never-ending stream of short-phrase stories the boys have to tell me when I pick them up from preschool. "Julian ride blue bike" "Fell down and hurt his self". I know we still have so far to go but just the fact that they can tell me these things seems like a miracle.

- Sitting in the bathroom with the boys as they're wrapped up in shark towels, counting all the new freckles on their legs and arms. 

- The sharing and the fighting. And the sharing again. And then the fighting. The learning how to be best friends.

And moments like this:
Blowing on the dandelions. The furrowed brows, the pursed lips. Sheer determination. We must have picked every weed on that hill.

This year, I'm going to bring the focus of my life to the little moments. And now, some more little moments await as it's almost 10pm and my children are still whining outside of their bedroom. Time doesn't slow down for blog posts to be written or for moms to have free time.

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Where did you find your Happy Mama Moments this month? Join in with 11 other moms from all over the country who are working to find the everyday joys in motherhood. Check out the Happy Mama Movement facebook page or by linking up with a post of your own.






on showing love in front of your kids.

This recent article on the Huff Post Parents site has been making its rounds on social media and part of it really struck a cord with me. Well, number 4 in particular. 
"4. Put down your child's other parent. If you never show affection and love to your partner/spouse in front of your child, the child does not develop a barometer for what love is or what it looks like. If you are always putting your spouse down and rejecting him/her, threatening divorce, you create a chronic state of anxiety for your child. If you are already divorced and you remain cold, distant, bitter, angry and blaming of your ex-spouse, you are sending the subtle message to your child that your ex-spouse is the cause of the divorce and you need to be the preferred parent. This is parent alienation."
There are so many parts of this statement that resonate with me and have in some way, formed my view on love and relationships.

If you never show affection and love to your partner/spouse in front of your child, the child does not develop a barometer for what love is or what it looks like. 

I'm a child of divorce. Well, let me re-phrase, I'm a child who grew up with parents in an unhappy marriage. They didn't actually divorce until I was 18. Now, I'm not saying my parents did a horrible job at raising me, but I think they would agree that they did not have the kind of relationship that provided a good model for me.  I don't recall a single time in my childhood where I saw my parents hug or kiss in front of me. Ever. I'm sure they did every now and then, but it wasn't enough for me to remember. This doesn't mean I don't know what love looks like. 

Now, I may at times have difficulty expressing my love and affection for my husband in a physical way, i.e. we're not the hand holding/lots of PDA couple. I don't know why I'm like this, maybe it does have something to do with the amount of physical affection I grew up seeing, and now that I know what love looks like, it's difficult for me to connect my emotions to a physical show of affection. I'm much more comfortable expressing my love verbally, or I guess not more comfortable, but it's something that comes naturally for me. This also doesn't mean I don't enjoy physical displays of love and affection. I enjoy being hugged and kissed on, I crave that from my husband however many times, I'm just not sure how to process it. 

One thing I did learn from my parents' marriage is how I want mine to be different. I learned how I want to argue with my husband (without yelling). I learned that children can hear your arguments even if you think they cant, and that they always know what is going on. As an only child of parents who argued a lot, I learned exactly how I wanted to be different and I make efforts in my own marriage to avoid what caused me stress when I was younger.

Although it may seem like children of divorce or conflicted marriages would be in some way emotionally damaged (and who knows, maybe I'm all kinds of messed up), I think we carry a certain strength, resilience and a little bit of knowledge about the realness of love and marriage. We aren't under the illusion that things will be perfect. If anything, we've gained some first hand life lessons that our parents inadvertently taught us. Important lessons that will help us form the rules we'll use to guide ourselves in our own marriages. 

So on days my husband is feeling extra lovey and I just really don't feel like being hugged all day, I think about what I want my boys to see. I think about how I want them to see their mom and dad and squeeze my husband a little bit tighter. I want them to see a physical reassurance that everything is ok. I want them to remember us showing each other love. 

January 23, 2014

checking in.

The days of winter, of 2014, have just been flying by. I feel like I barely get a handle on one day before we're brushing teeth and reading bedtime stories. This new year has brought on a new season of motherhood for me. I've entered a season of auto-pilot, where all the dreams and crazy ideas that fill my head daily need to be written down and saved. 

I've added much more physical activity to my daily routine so the past couple of weeks I've been focusing on just keeping up with that addition. I'm feeling stronger and leaner, and am just trying to focus on staying consistent. With this addition to my daily life, it feels like many of the other things have just fallen to the wayside as I learn to juggle it all. 

But what has been getting the main focus? My boys. My sweet, growing, genius little people. We go to the park almost daily, we've been reading books non-stop, adding new and more difficult puzzles and activities to our daily routine. They've been showing me how interested they are in learning, so that's what we've been up to. Learning, and going. Just non-stop going. 

January 14, 2014

an afternoon in Muir Woods

Last weekend we took a little drive to Muir Woods, about 30 minutes North San Francisco. People have been telling us for awhile to drive there to see the beautiful forest and redwood trees and now over a year after we've moved here, we finally got around to it.


Julian was still going through his whine-about-everything stage and about 20 minutes after we got there, he got a sliver in his finger from the fence and it about derailed the entire trip. He wouldn't let us try to get it out but he wouldn't stop whining about it. Then he refused to walk anywhere. But you bet your hiney my will is much stronger than his and I wasn't about to let him ruin our time enjoying nature. I put that kid on my back and walked a few miles carrying an extra 40 lbs. At one point he wouldn't stop whining while I was carrying him, and I sat him down for a time out in the middle of Muir Woods forest. Not even nature and National monuments can stop a time out.


Isaiah though, the kid loved every bit of the day. He's been so good lately, I think knowing that he needs to cut us some slack because we're having to give some extra attention to his brother. It's one of the amazing mysteries of twins, they always know when their brother is having a rough time with life and back off so we can focus on the one who needs the help. 


Here's to many more adventures in 2014. 

January 7, 2014

daily life: always at the playground

I made a promise to myself recently that I'd make more of an effort to get out my DSLR and actually take photos. I love capturing our daily life, as it's many of these little things I'll want to remember when I'm old and grey. Also, I have many of the photos I take printed in Iowa for my mother-in-law because it's really the only way they get to see the boys (they don't use the internet much). So get used to seeing a lot more photos around these parts. 

On New Year's Day, we took a little family walk to the playground across the street from our house. The boys love the park and Julian literally asks me non-stop most days of the week, "go park yet, Mommy?" Thankfully it's close. And there's another even bigger/better park a mile away which makes for a nice little work out for me if I want some exercise.


Julian has been so photogenic lately due to the fact that he has a lot to say to me. He likes to just stand around (sometimes very awkwardly) and just look at me, make weird thinking faces, and then construct some sort of small sentence. I happily snap away while asking him questions, getting him to make some very expressive faces. This kid is going to have some very interesting things to say once he figures out how to get all the words out right. 




January 3, 2014

no sleeping in this house.

If you've been following me on Facebook, you'll know I've been going through sleep hell over the past week. Not a single thing has been solved, if anything it's gotten worse.

Here's what's been going on:
More recently (over the past couple of weeks) Julian has been waking up often in the middle of the night. He'd get up, walk to the gate at their door, whine and wait for me. I'd get up, pick him up, put him back in bed. End of story. He'd do this anywhere from 1-3-5 times a night. 

Then his middle of the nights changed. He started throwing all-out tantrums upon waking up in the middle of the night. He'd request millions of things and the only way to stop the madness was for me to just sleep on their floor. 

This week all of this amplified. Monday started with middle of the night tantrums, we were awake for 3 hours until I eventually went to sleep on his floor. Tuesday was much the same. Wednesday, we decided to try to just ignore the behavior all together. Ignoring it led him to cry/whine at the door to his bedroom from 8:30 bedtime until 12:30 when I went to bed. He then went to sleep when I put him in his bed and went to sleep in the room next to him.

Then last night, I was beyond exhausted and resorted to sitting with him in his room at 10:30 until he fell asleep, all the while he was repeating, even in his sleep, "go potty. go potty." when he'd gone once before bed and once before I sat with him at 10:30.

Friday night was the loudest of all the nights. He was straight-up tantruming most of the 3 hours he was awake. After a couple of trips to his room to put the gate back up that he'd knocked down in a fit of rage, I finally went to his room and sat there until he fell asleep. I ignored every request to go potty or for me to go to sleep in my room (that was a big one tonight. He wanted me to sleep in my room right then even though I'd reassured him that I'd go to sleep later). 

Really, I just want the kid to fall asleep on his own without crying. And I want him to stay asleep all night. He's almost 4. What I'm thankful for is a very good sleeping Isaiah. The kid has been sleeping through Julian's crying and tantrums all week. What a trooper. 

Things I've implemented this week:
We started an official bed time routine. I printed out a nice little poster with photos of each thing we do before bed and they seem somewhat enthusiastic to follow it. Although for the past 2 nights at some point during the routine there was all-out refusal or crying from Julian (a stall tactic because he knows bed time is coming). 

3 days ago I decided to cut out naps, in effort to hopefully take away some of his fight at night. That hasn't worked. He's gotten less sleep than ever, due to his staying up so late each night crying. He's getting roughly the same amount of sleep I'm getting when he needs to be getting much more. 

What to do:
I'm going to start naps again tomorrow. I'll cut them down to probably an hour and a half and go from there, although I'm just dreading waking them up from nap because they're always super pissed off. The extreme cutting of sleep hasn't worked. If anything, the kid is just beyond tired anymore. After a week of about half of the sleep he's been getting? Yeah, he's exhausted. 

Other things I'm contemplating:
- Printing out a photo of me he can keep with him in his bed. I know it's reaching but I'd do anything right about now. 
- I've thought about some sort of delayed reward or consequence for the next morning but honestly 1)I'm not sure if he'd understand that much yet since it's so far past the actual behavior. 2) once he's in his crazy state-nothing stops it. I mean the kid went for FOUR HOURS one day. And probably would have kept going had I not gone to bed. 

Other than this I have no idea what to do. Everyone has been telling me to just ignore the behavior. Dude, you try listening to YOUR kid cry, whine, scream and all of the above for hours and hours on end for a week. I know my son. He will not stop. People say, well he has to give up sometime, right? Yeah, and I don't feel comfortable letting him cry literally all night because I know he could go that long. I just can't do it. 

I don't know where this post is going. I don't even know if any of you can really help me. I just needed to get this all out. Lack of sleep is probably the worst torture anyone can endure. It messes with your whole body, it's been throwing off our entire family and all of our days because we're all so tired. 

5 things I'm really good at for 2014

Resolutions are dumb. I'm not making any in rebellion. We always have things we'd like to work on, and then when the new year rolls around we all make vague and very unspecific resolutions that will supposedly make life, and us, so much better. I'm over it. I'm a pretty freaking awesome person. I'm nice enough, I'm pretty enough, I'm good enough. Yeah I want to lose a couple of el-bees. Yeah I could probably do more of this and that. It'll happen. In the grand scheme of things that are important in life, I'm good at all of the big stuff.
This year? It's the same as all years except I'm going to set one goal for myself...and it's going to be to rock the hell out of life. In whatever stage I'm in I'm just going to be really awesome at it and appreciate it for what it is. Life isn't just enjoyable when we're "in progress" to becoming a better person. We're good now. I mean, at least I think I'm doing pretty well as a person. 

Life is about the ups and downs. Each year is full of times when we're lazy, when we're really busy, when we're stressed out, when we eat a pint of ice cream for no reason other than the fact that it tastes awesome and who cares? 

This year I'm giving you all permission to free yourself from the guilt you feel for not living up to what you think you should be. YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH NOW. We don't need a year to make ourselves better. Sure, it's awesome to have goals but when the goals include like 80 things you need to be better at in a vague list, does that really give you confidence and make it seem attainable? Probably not. 

So instead of a list of things I want to be better at, because there's obviously about ninety-hundred-bajillion things we all suck at, I'm going to make a list of the things that I'm awesome at and going to continue to be awesome at.

1. Drinking coffee and any form of caffeine.
I'm so good at this. I do it everyday. Give it up for my health? Stupid idea. I love coffee, it tastes good, it helps me do all the things and I generally feel like Wonder Woman while drinking it. Giving it up or cutting back would be the opposite of a resolution to make my life better. 

2. Cleaning.
Yep. I'm going to keep cleaning my house. I hate it sometimes but I'm a little crazy in the fact that I feel I need to control stuff and in my life, when everything else is just one giant clusterfuck of crazy, I can clean the shit out of my house and feel alright with the world. Not worrying about the dishes? Pssht. I'll worry about them. I'll clean them and 3 other things just because I can. And because I'm super stoked I have a house that I can clean. 

3. Replying "Your Mom" at any opportunity that I deem appropriate.
Does this make me sound immature and dumb? Probably. Do I care? Your mom does.

4. Waiting until the last minute to do things.
This is how I work. I'm a procrastinator and then I crank that shit out at the last minute like a boss. I'm awesome under pressure. I've tried and tried all of the stupid new years resolutions to "get organized. do things on a schedule." But it just ends up stressing me out. This isn't how my brain works, I'm not going to force it. I like to live life on the edge. And by edge I mean waiting until the exact last minute possible to do anything, ever. Will she get it done?? I don't know!!! It's so exciting! I can't handle the suspense!

5. Being a good mom.
I'm an awesome mom. Sometimes we get caught up in this world of things we think we need to be doing for our kids, parenting has become so stressful these days. There's always something we think we're not doing right or not enough of. I'm a kick-ass mom. My kids seem to think I'm pretty cool. They're alive and thriving and know they're loved. At the end of the day, that means I'm doing a good job.

BONUS!
6. Taking selfies.
Yup. You won't see a decline in these. People can call them lame all they want but I'm going to do it as long as there are bathroom mirrors and front facing cameras. I'm a stay at home mom. I interact with a lot of the outside world via the internet. Having photos of myself gives others a good look at who it is on the other side of the screen. A lot of times, a selfie tells a lot about a person. I'm not afraid to take a photo of myself, even looking deliriously tired, and put it out there for others to see. It's a way of being open and honest like you would be in person, putting your face out there is brave. Sometimes it's vain. Because damn it, sometimes I look flippin' good. Sometimes my hair is killing it. It's ok to be happy with yourself, with your appearance, to be confident and proud. It's ok to communicate who you really are. In this digital where people can bully and be total a-holes hiding behind a computer screen, being honest and transparent is a good quality to have. And I'm going to keep doing it.

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