Friday, November 20, 2015


A month ago, I posted about how I was so god damn tired all the time. All. the. time. I went to the doctor and nothing changed afterwards - I did not start taking any pills or vitamins or have some life-altering diagnosis. But what did change was me. I decided to quit sitting around feeling tired and to instead push myself to do stuff.

So I did. I started taking yoga classes and running again. I began reading and writing more. And what do you know? In doing stuff, I felt motivated to do stuff again. My laziness was making me lazy, I suppose, because I am able to do much more than I did. I'm not saying there isn't something wrong with my body - I most definitely still believe there is. But I'm choosing to focus on health rather than sickness and in so I'm feeling healthier.

Mind over matter, right? Wellness over illness. Positive over negative. And paper covers rock.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

losing home

The unthinkable has happened. My parents are selling their house. Our house. Our family home. 

When I heard the news, I should have been instantly happy for my parents to be moving on and up. I should have been glad for them and this next chapter that they've been talking about for years and years. And I suppose I was, but that feeling was dwarfed by my overwhelming feeling of loss, losing this piece of my history. I felt pretty choked up even when the family sold my grandpa's house, but my house? My house. A lump is in my throat even just writing those words.

A few months ago, I wrote about my childhood home after reading a book all about what home means to different writers. It was as if I was preparing myself for this moment, before I had any idea it was going to happen. But I still was not prepared. I instantly texted my sister, who also lives a little distance from that house and can also see it with the same sanguine nostalgia I do; rarely seeing it instead for what it is without us.

Then that night, I texted my brothers and my mom. I called Alaska Airlines to see how much it would cost to extend my Thanksgiving vacation for a couple more days, one more weekend in that place that means so much to me. A few years ago, we actually stopped doing many holiday festivities at my parents' house. I always have a baby in tow as does my older brother, and that house has rough edges and extra stairs and not enough space. Instead, for the holidays we gather at my older brother's house. But this year, should it be at 118th Street for one last holiday? Of course. Of fucking course. 

Steve came home late on Tuesday after finishing class and he walked into the kitchen to where I was crying and stopped short. "Is everything OK?" he asked. "It's been a rough day," I answered. "I'm really sad about my parents moving out of our house." And I tried to explain why it meant so much to me, how not only was I raised there, but how that's where my siblings and I became friends and allies, where we were home schooled and helped my dad on his campaigns and where we got our first dog and even better, a trampoline which we spent hours on.

I thought about the bases my dad spray-painted on that cul-de-sac pavement so we could always play baseball even without bases and I thought about that fort we had girls' club meetings in and I thought about how I learned to drive in that backyard and how my brother repaired the fence after I drove into it so my parents wouldn't know. I thought about how that was the first place I had a room of my own and where I fell in love with reading and writing and puzzles and all of my other solitary hobbies. It was in that living room that I first called the adoption agency when I was pregnant.

But it was hard to explain this to Steve. Although he listened, he has always moved every few years and only now in this house does he feel what home feels like. It's hard to explain that there is another kind, the kind our sons will remember this home we have as. Although a person can hear your words, they can not feel your emotion unless they have something similar to compare it to.

We have Thanksgiving, but after that, our house will no longer belong to my family. We will not spend another Christmas listening to Evie cassettes while mom bakes in that puny kitchen (my mom finally gets a proper kitchen! She has been dreaming of this since I was a child. Yay mom!). We will not jump on that rusted-over trampoline anymore. We will not walk down Pipeline road or close that damn bathroom door and turn the fan on after a shower because dad insists on growing mold. What's silly is we don't do those things that much anymore anyway. But something about the option being removed makes me think of those things in that sanguine nostalgia.

It's coming on Christmas and one of my favorite memories was one winter night when it snowed. I remember when dad allowed us to run barefoot in the snow. It was dark out, and the four of us and dad ran up the neighborhood hill and back down in our bare feet, squealing in delight. And then, we ran home, into the warmth of that house and told mom all about our adventures. That's what coming home is to me. And perhaps why this hit me so hard is because I feel that I will never have a home to come back to. I know that it is the people that make something special and the place is just the backdrop, but that backdrop was pretty damn special to me too. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

definitions at 32

Well, Jewel's book didn't turn out quite as fantastic as I projected. She transformed from an independent warrior woman to a co-dependent brainwashed one. Her book ends up being a bit preachy - bestowing on her readers everything she learned as advice we should heed. And although I definitely didn't agree with all of it ("be a filter, not a sponge" ~Perks of Being a Wallflower), I did like the point she made about how we are constantly redefining things as we grow and evolve. So I decided to write down how I define a few words now. And perhaps in a few years, as I have grown and developed, I will do it again, after I have sponged and filtered all sorts of new lessons.
Beauty - contentment in now. Feeling good currently, rather than constantly focusing on what to do to look better later. Carefree and spontaneous always looks better than contrived and overworked.

Success -having a purpose that you fulfill with pride and excitement.

Happiness - living with purpose, love, friendship and peace.

Family - the people who will never leave or abandon you, no matter what. And the ones you will never leave or abandon either, despite their darkest hours.

Friendship - people you laugh with. People you feel free to be yourself around, without pretense.

Grief - allowing yourself to feel the pain you've experienced. Not wallowing, but acknowledging and working through your emotions, even the shitty ones.

Peace - comfort with who you are because of the choices you've made.

Independence - being able to sustain yourself without help in your personal, professional, and emotional life. Not to be confused with refusing to ask for help in times when it is needed, because those times happen to everyone. 

Maturity -learning from mistakes and then retaining and applying that wisdom. 

Love - sacrificing what is important to me because someone else is even more important.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

halloween, lighthouse, hay rolls

Holden's second Halloween, the first one he's been excited about. He can say, "ween" and a variation of "trick or treat." He also asks to watch "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!" by pointing at the TV and saying, "good grief!"
 Brandon does not like taking pictures. For some reason my attempts to convince him it would be fun did not work.
 The boys were Marshall and Chase from "PAW Patrol," but when a neighbor asked Holden who he was, he pointed at his costume and said, "Tucker!"
 There were no good pictures of all four of us. It wasn't our night.
 Then today I took the boys on an adventure. Last Monday we went to Ashland and took a scenic US Highway home instead of I-80. I passed a lighthouse and a "beach" (RV park with sand) and decided to return one day.
 Today was that day. It is locked up to cars, but you can enter by foot, so we did.
 My kids had never seen a lighthouse before (of course not, we are in Nebraska, after all).
 Brandon said, "this is my favorite beach!" which I genuinely laughed at. He is one of few three-year-olds who has been to beautiful Hawaii, yet he thought this RV park was even better.
 I love travel pictures - I am always taking pictures from behind the kids, showing them going somewhere. They will grow up and wonder what they looked like at certain ages and I will say, "I don't know, kid, but I have four thousand pictures of the back of you running places."
 If you haven't visited Omaha, you don't know about one of hte most beautiful buildings that resides here.
 You can see it from I-80 and if I were to get married again, I would get married in the same place I did. But if that was booked, it would be here.
 The tall grass is something I love.
 And the back of them. Again.
Another weird thing that I love? Hay bales. Or rolls. So here we are: Quintessential Nebraska .

Sunday, November 1, 2015

finding calm amongst chaos

Turn the quiet up, turn the noise down.
~Sung by Eric Church

I have always loved solitude and find comfort in quiet. Yesterday, a fellow barista told me she was an introvert and I laughed and corrected her. She is very outgoing and talkative, and I associate an introvert instead with a shy person who thinks more than they speak. She told me that although, yes, she is outgoing, to her, an introvert means someone who craves solitude to reset and recharge. She is not charged up by being around people, but rather by being alone. Solitude gives her energy and restores her. Being around people, on the contrary, drains her. I agreed that by this definition, I too am an introvert.

I am reading Jewel's autobiography (have I mentioned how much I love Jewel? Oh yeah, I have; Here. I have more than just a little girl crush on her. I think her and I are spirit animals). She has an ongoing theme which is finding calm amongst chaos, finding peace in turbulence. She is introspective, thoughtful, an artist. Although she is constantly getting rid of her possessions, the one thing she always keeps is her writings. She journals and writes songs and makes sense of her feelings by writing about them honestly. Although she has a tough life, rather than acting out as a result of it, she chooses to find her way through it the best way she can.

I set my bags down in the guest room and stood in the living room, looking out at the frozen lake covered in a thick blanket of snow. There is something so peaceful and quiet about land covered in snow. It muffles all sound in quietness so unlike the hum of summer. No birds in the trees, no rippling of live water. The isolation reminded me of Alaska, and I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to go into silence myself. Winter is a time for going inward. For tending to the unseen. 
~Excerpt from Jewel's Never Broken
Although it is the first day of November, it was seventy degrees today, so I made arrangements yesterday with work and childcare so I could make it to this outdoor yoga class at Lake Zorinsky. I think perhaps the reason I gravitated towards yoga was because it is a chance to quiet yourself and find peace. And although in a class there are other people, I barely notice them. "Yoga is about your own journey," you often hear in the practice and indeed it is; each of us doing slight variations to the same pose, breathing differently - being aware of each other, but in no way comparing or defining ourselves by each other. It was relaxing and challenging, motivating and calming all at the same time.

I am always looking for calm amongst chaos, but I have learned with two small boys it is nearly always chaos. In my craving for solitude, motherhood is hard. Even eating dinner together is constant noise - shrieking and running from the table, throwing food, spitting it out. So I look for little moments to isolate myself partially - writing at my desk across the hall from the toy room or reading on the porch while they play on the playground. It isn't complete peace, but it is what I can get for now. I must find time to go inward and tend to the unseen, despite the seen and very much heard.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

feeling the story again

When I think to when I've felt the most myself, I remember the year after college, the year before I was married. I had my own apartment and worked breezy, carefree jobs. I had a TV but no channels. I spent my free time hanging out with friends or writing. Back then, I had dreams of becoming a writer. I have the same dream now, of course, but back then I was determined to make something of it, turn it into a reality. Now instead, reality has crashed my dream into a whimsy of my youth.

Everything I have done since then has forced me to grow up, to become a responsible adult. I got married, bought a house, finally have a dependable car. I took jobs because of stability or health insurance, rather than scheduling. I have two little boys and a dog to take care of. I am an adult, yes, but now without those carefree smiles I once had.

This week I read A Drinking Life, by Pete Hamill.  When I read his sentence, “I would lie alone in the dark, feeling that I was a character in a story that had lost its plot,” I inhaled deeply, words now assigned to something I myself have been feeling. And then, after he decides to enroll in art school: “…After months without a narrative line for my own life, I felt the story again.”

I have been going through a midlife crisis of sorts, just a tad earlier than common. I have been back at work for months, but this time a job that works with my life scheduling-wise, just like those jobs of yore. Perhaps it is that that has got me thinking about what it is I want to do from here on out. Perhaps it was considering going back to those adult jobs, the ones far removed from my passion. Perhaps it was Holden turning 18 months old, the age where he is cheaper in daycare and when daycare becomes an option. Perhaps it has been what I’ve been reading. Perhaps it is all of those things.

“You can do anything you want to do. What is rare is this actual wanting to do a specific thing: wanting it so much that you are practically blind to all other things, that nothing else will satisfy you…I mean it. There is reason for you to give this statement some of your best thought. You may find that this is just what is the matter with most of the people in the world; that few are really wanting what they think they want, and that most people go through their lives without ever doing one whole thing they really want to do.” ~The Art Spirit by Robert Henri

That specific thing has always been writing for me. I remember being a ten-year-old who wrote angsty diary entries and silly, juvenile short stories and dreaming of one day writing more – writing words that other people would read. I remember changing my major in college from education to writing because that was what I loved. I knew that as a major, it could be worthless, but I also knew that it was what I was interested in, what I enjoyed. I remember moving to Omaha and trying for a hot moment to land a job somewhat related to writing, but after one interview that I bombed, giving up and going back to what I knew – working in a restaurant until someone found something else for me to do. I remember the thoughts and dreams, I’ve just never put them into motion.

But now, with this mid-life crisis, I am rejuvenated. I am motivated to find the carefree, happy smiles that I had before I gave up on what I love doing the most. I have had a lot of distractions in the past decade, but although they detoured me, I haven’t completely lost my way. A few months ago, I applied for UNO’s MFA program. A few weeks ago, I wrote out a rough draft of a children’s book. Today, on a day without the children underfoot, I picked up my novel again, brimming with ideas for it. Steve texted me, “Getting some writing done?” And I replied that I am and I’ve missed it: “I feel the most myself when I write.”

Finally, I am feeling the story again.  

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Gathering and journaling

Now about gathering, here is what I mean. 

My son Adam, his wife Betsy, and their little children Alison and David live in Minneapolis. When I travel there, I know I'll visit with family. Have good meals. See friends. Indulge in amusing conversations. Lots of fun music. (Adam is in two bands.) 

What it doesn't mean is writing. 

I can still accomplish daily things like keeping up with e-mail and phone calls. 

But I do no writing. Still, I consider these kinds of trips "gathering days." Good writing is made up of details. So on these hours away from the computer, away from actual writing, I become a collector of details. Some I collect actively, most passively. 

It may look as if a writer uses such stuff to keep her away from the actual hard work of writing. And in fact many authors will tell outsiders just that. But do not be fooled. It is actually all grist to the mill. 

...I realize that we writers still must live in the real world. That means cakes, letters, bills, clogged toilets, etc. That means reading other people's books, watching TV, doing crossword puzzles, chatting on the phone. That means taking children to school, to the orthodontist, to choir practice, to basketball games. That means working till 3, till 5, till 8, till midnight. That means vacuuming the living room of cat hairs, dog hairs, husband's hairs. That means running to the grocery store, the paint store, the shoe store. That means going to the doctor, the dentist, the hair salon. 

What that means is life. 

Besides, without life, what's there to write about? 

~Jane Yolen

I read this today and loved it. And I didn't just love it because it gave an excuse for not writing - quite to the contrary, I would love to write more than I do. I'm never waiting for the muse or lacking inspiration. Instead, I am always consumed with daily life and not making writing a priority within that life. I loved it because it made sense of the time we spend not writing. It gave that time the same validity and importance as what we create from it.

When I am not writing, I am gathering. I am gathering up life lessons and relationships and gossip and character sketches and ideas. I am gathering up love and angst and sadness and joy and anxiety to write into something someday. I just must be careful to take breaks from gathering to write it down, before my bucket overflows and some of the good stuff I gathered gets left behind, lost, and never written about.

And one last thing - did you know the word "journal" is derived from the French word "jour" as in "day"? We all know "jour" from "soup de jour" but it also in journaling means writing daily. So that is what I resolve. To spend thirty minutes a day journaling while what I've gathered is fresh. Thirty minutes is not hard, even if I am a mother of two rowdy boys. After all, I am writing right now while they are playing contentedly a few feet away. I can make anything an excuse, but making something a priority is where I will find fulfillment.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

first yoga class

Although I have been practicing yoga in the comfort and privacy of my own home for the past year and a half, the time has come to join a yoga class. There is a yoga studio right across the street from the coffee shop I work at and they have a hell of a Groupon going on, so I finally signed up. Then today, after the coffee shop, I made my way over there.

I have had some trepidation about joining a yoga class. I had pictured it would be a bunch of upper middle-class moms - you know the type - the ones with nannies even though they don't have jobs of their own. I imagined they would talk about their $125 haircuts and roll out in their Lexuses and would wear full makeup and matchy matchy outfits. Of course they would be incredibly flexible and I would be clumsy and awkward and they would snicker and whisper and I would flee crying. I even had a dream that I was some outcast in class last night.

I had other concerns too - that I would need to run to the bathroom mid-class or that my sweaty hands and feet would be a problem. But I needn't have worried. I went to class and the instructor didn't snicker when I told her I needed to change into my yoga pants in the bathroom because I just came from work and yoga pants are no bueno there. I put on my weight gloves and kept my socks on and walked into the room. There were only four other women in there, and we each put our mats against a wall, creating our own little corners. Surprisingly, I was the youngest woman there. If anyone were to look like the stereotypical yogi type, it was me, not them.

The instructor told us how to bend into each pose, then walked around and ensured we were each doing it the best we could. I learned how to correctly hold the poses I've been doing wrong this whole time. I learned new poses. I breathed well for the first time in a long time. And before I knew it, the hour was over. After savasana, the instructor told us each to roll over onto whichever side we chose and then explained what each side meant. "If you rolled to your left, that means you need to slow down and take it easy. Usually we roll to the left when we do yoga at night or if you are worn down. If you rolled to the right, that means you are choosing to be filled with energy, some 'get-up-and-go.'"

I had just spoken to my sister yesterday, shortly after writing my latest blog and we both agreed that exercising more might fill me with more energy. Yesterday I took out the jogging stroller and took the boys to a couple of parks. Then last night I signed up for today's yoga class. And you bet I rolled over to my right side today. I choose to be filled with energy. I choose to rediscover my get-up-and-go.

Monday, October 19, 2015

"you're fine"

On Friday was my doctor's appointment for exhaustion. I felt a bit silly even making the appointment, sounding like one of those celebrities who checks into rehab for "exhaustion" when you know it's not really that. When I got there, the nurse checked my vitals and then said gently, "so we're treating you for exhaustion?" I gave her a genteel nod. "Do you have little kids at home?" she asked. "Yes," I replied. "That's it," she said, neither joking nor serious.

The doctor came in and asked me a bunch of questions, each of us trying to decipher why I feel like I'm eighty when I'm only 32. He asked me when it started, what had changed. I started working part-time, my thyroid medication was adjusted. I lost sixty pounds last year. I all but stopped working out recently. I have two rowdy boys at home who never nap, don't even sleep through the night sometimes. Their energy is boundless which makes my limited energy all the more apparent.

He told me my thyroid adjustment will make me more tired and maybe although I am sleeping I'm not getting good sleep. That much is true. I'm a nervous sleeper - I awaken at the sound of the newspaper hitting our driveway, Tucker barking, Holden as much as turning over or coughing gently. Then I try to fall back asleep, but often instead I am worrying that I'm not getting enough sleep, counting the hours I'll get if I fall asleep right now, or how few I'll get if I don't.

I have bizarre dreams and I wake up thinking they're real. In a recent dream, I stumbled upon the intervention of a high school acquaintance and I woke up thinking of ways I could help her overcome her addiction.  It's ridiculous, this relationship I have with sleep. Even though I've been out of school for a decade, I waken suddenly thinking I have a big paper due and I have to run to the library to print it out before class. It's like everything I've ever been anxious about comes back to me when I sleep and I relive the nervousness each night. Restful sleep, my ass. It's always fitful. 

I told the doctor I have heart palpitations often so he told me in order to diagnose me they would run some blood tests and hook me up to an EKG before I left, then he would analyze those results and see if it's something easy to spot. If not, and I was still feeling exhausted, they could run more tests but if nothing came out of those, it might be something psychological. He eyed me at this, then, observing my calm exterior added, "but I doubt that would be the case with you." If only he could see my thoughts, I thought, if only he knew I was fighting back tears that I can't explain. 

The nurse came in and explained the EKG, then hooked me up to wires with stickers all over my abdomen. I thought of my kids quickly, (then morbidly) of how if I died they would be without a mother. A tear slipped down my cheek and I quickly brushed the evidence away with the back of my hand before the nurse saw and noticed I am weak. "If only your kids could see you right now," she said. "They'd think this was so cool - like something from 'The Matrix.'" I didn't think they would think it was cool at all, but I didn't argue with her.

I left and went about my business, then the next day, I called to get my lab results. My thyroid levels are still off, and I get slightly less Vitamin D than I should, but other than that, I am a healthy person from what they can tell. "See?" Steve said. "I told you you were fine." I smiled wanly. All signs point to that I should be fine. But people can't see what I feel and I don't feel fine at all.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015


Parents get a lot of crap, when kids turn into adults with problems. Every time I see a movie or read a memoir and the adult ends up in therapy, they are finding a source for their issues, and that source is almost always their parents. Although sometimes that might be the case, I feel like parents end up taking a lot of blame when no one else is willing to accept any responsibility.

But despite my views on that, today I found out that I actually am responsible for a new fear of Holden's: bees. I am overly dramatic around bees. I have been stung exactly twice and it was two decades ago. My brother Chad stepped on a bees' nest while we were picking blackberries and I remember the angry swarm that rose out of the ground. Chad and I ran and ran, but he ran faster and I ended up with two bee stings on my back.

When I made it back home, wailing, my mom told me to take off my shirt (which I remember being humiliated by) and lie on the couch and then she put ice on my back. I silently reveled in the attention while acting like the pain was unbearable. Maybe it was to me then, before having children or even having menstrual cramps. Maybe that was the worst pain imaginable to me - a bee sting (OK, two. Maybe my melodrama had some merit).

So for the last twenty years, I have ran shrieking from bees. I have freaked out whenever I heard buzzing, relieved sometimes when I discovered it was only a fly. I have screamed outside many times, "a bee!" while the kids are playing, blissfully unaware. And then I run around frantically, looking like some sort of mental patient trying to escape the ward.

When Brandon got two bee stings on his face a few weeks ago, he cried for only a moment or two, and I thought, is he tough or are bee stings really not that bad? But I quickly decided he is tough and bees are still scary as shit. Manic bee behavior resumed.

Today, when I was instructing Holden to eat his lunch, he ignored all my pleading, endlessly saying, "bee!" loudly and pointing at thin air. He started to panic after a few rounds of this when I didn't let him out of his high chair or acknowledge what he was saying. Then he switched to saying, "out!" until I got the hint and let him out of his high chair.

I began cleaning the dishes and only then did I hear the buzzing myself. This time I was relieved to discover it was only a fly, but intermixed with my relief was the realization that I have passed a paranoia onto my baby. Oops, sorry kid. But I don't plan to pay for your therapy bills, if you ever have them. I still have hopes that everything of greater importance will turn out alright.

Monday, October 12, 2015

run down

My last blog post was weeks ago and at that time I felt exhausted, run down. Today, I still feel exhausted and run down. At first, I thought it was just my body adjusting to my early morning hours working at the coffee shop. But that is only a couple days a week and even then I go to bed at 9:30, still getting the 7-8 hours of sleep I should.

I thought back to when it started and I remembered I had told doctors at my last two appointments I felt fatigued, and that was before I started at the coffee shop. So I looked on my Nike+ app to see when it was I slowed down my running and realized that was back in March that my activity started declining, and by April I had cut my running into about a third of what it was.

I was keeping up on yoga for awhile, but even that dropped off, me spending any extra time now lying in bed reading or sleeping instead of exerting energy, because I really didn't feel I had any to spare. I googled extreme fatigue, and came up with some viable options: anemia, celiac disease, diabetes. But then of course there were more menacing, scary possibilities so I stopped my googling before self-diagnosing as cancer-stricken.

I've been trying to keep tabs on this, pinpoint any details I can. I've noticed I feel almost normal in the mornings and can remain as active as I once was until about 2 p.m., and then I feel sacked. I have been rushing chores into the beginning of the day, as well as field trips with the boys, working out (if it ever happens), and anything else of any productive value whatsoever.

But six hours a day is not nearly enough to fit in everything I plan to. So I'm going to see the doctor, see if there is anything diagnosable wrong with me, or if maybe this is just me now. I feel like I'm much too young for feeling this damn old. But maybe this is how damn old you feel when you reach this ripe old age of 32. Maybe I spent too much energy too early in life and the rest of it will be me lying around with books and complaints. God, let's hope that's not it though. I was just getting started.

Monday, September 28, 2015

being there

Today I felt crumpled. I know that's not an adjective people use to refer to themselves, but it fits in my case. I came home from working at the coffee shop and the kids were whiny and tired (because these kids sleep much less than normal kids do, I swear to you). I also was whiny and tired and that just doesn't work. Someone needs to be the strong one, the voice of reason; a person that isn't too involved in themselves to be aware of the needs of others. But none of us were feeling up to it.

I tried loading the kids into the car to go to the bookstore, because retail therapy is a real thing and there is nothing I could purchase that would soothe me more than some good books. But Holden was screaming and throwing his head around like he was having a seizure again (he gave himself a black eye doing this last Sunday), so I gave up. I released him from his car seat restraints and herded him and Brandon into the backyard. Then I collapsed onto the grass in a crumpled heap.

I haven't written a word on my novel in the two months I've been working again. I haven't gone for an outdoor run. I haven't read books or taken a bath. I have had only very little time to myself that I haven't been asleep in these past two months. And it all caught up to me today. I just wanted a half hour in a book store. Or even a half hour with a book when the kids weren't whining would be fine. Well, it wouldn't be fine, I would want more, but now that I didn't get that, it's easy to say it would have made me happy.

I thought of all the things I would be doing if I had endless free time. I would love to join a writer's workshop and start taking yoga classes. I would love to finish some writing projects and a list of books I have scrawled down next to my uncompleted checklists. I'd like to paint the upstairs bathroom and take baths and do puzzles. Maybe focus some energy into giving up coffee and taking up matcha tea instead (probably not though).

I stayed crumpled on the ground until I heard Holden telling me he lost his shoe and then I fetched his shoe and put it back on. I resumed mom duties. And I tried again, to strap the kids into the car seats. This time, I won. I wasn't much stronger than the first time, but just that little extra oomph was all I needed. They fell asleep within a mile, so I turned the car around and transferred Holden into his crib and went and laid down myself.

Then, once they were asleep for the night, I ran a little on the treadmill and did some yoga. During my break, I read in Women's Health something Michelle Obama's mom told her, when Michelle was a busy working mom with a baby, barely able to take a shower each day. She said, "Michelle, you cannot be there for everyone else if you're not there for yourself." And I thought, that's it. That is why I crumpled. 

So this week I resolve to carve out a little time for myself each day. Even if it's ten minutes (but God, I hope it's longer than that), I will do something I want to do. And it's not because I don't want to be everything for everyone who needs me; but rather, it's because I do. 

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Day out with Thomas

Yesterday we went on a day trip to see Thomas the Tank Engine. Yes, we road tripped three hours each way with a 1-year-old and a 3-year-old to see a damn train because we're totally nuts.
Holden was happy to get out and run around at our halfway point. He is not the type that likes to be inactive and restrained.
 I love wind turbines. I always have to take a picture of them. They are powerful and majestic do-gooders full of energy. Maybe my perfect man is actually a wind turbine, come to think of it.
 Brandon was all smiles once we got there.
But then, he got two bee stings. You can see them here - one on the right of his mouth and one on his chin. He was a damn champion though - he only cried for a minute - much less than either Steve or I would have (at his age or today).
 We got him a giant balloon, which made him feel much better.
 The balloon has followed him everywhere since: we even tied it to his headboard last night.
And Holden got a pennant, never one to be left out.

Monday, September 21, 2015

realistic expectations

There are many struggles in motherhood for me. I would love to say I took on motherhood with a fierce calm and conquered it, but that would be a boldfaced lie. Motherhood and I are not a perfect pairing. As I've written about before, one of my struggles has been surrendering my Me Time and what sometimes feels like my entire identity in the name of parenthood. Another one is adjusting to the difference between what I'd like to accomplish and what I am actually able to.

I am not Type A or OCD or a Perfectionist, but I do seem like the type who would give myself a label. I am an Accomplisher, if that's a thing. It is now. I make people look lazy by comparison - I know this because it happened yesterday at work. I am a mover and a shaker in the literal sense. I do. I make lists and cross tasks off with gusto. I make the most of my time most of the time. I am productive. On the mornings I open the coffee shop, I am driving to work at 5:15 a.m. I always smile at the runners in their reflective gear, up before the sun; these are my people.

So at first I tried to keep up my productivity, in spite of having two rowdy little boys underfoot. I thought of staying at home as an early retirement and happily thought, just think of everything I can get done! I had grand ambitions of reading 50 books a year, writing blogs and in my journal, practicing yoga, walking and running, keeping the house clean, keeping the boys clean and dressed and then knocking out some of my large house projects, all while writing a novel in my spare time. And it took me no time at all to realize that was not just unlikely, it was impossible. 

In those early days of being a stay-at-home mom, Steve would come home and ask -- foolishly, as all husbands have done -- "what did you do all day?" And I would glare at him, annoyed at my own filth from not having showered, of the kids' filth, of the house's filth. I would agonize over all the things I didn't get checked off my list - of each week that passed that I couldn't turn the page in my task book because I was still stuck on last week's task list.

But a year and a half have passed and although it still bothers me that there isn't the time in the day for all I want to accomplish, I have learned anything that I do accomplish is progress. It didn't take me long to be proud of a day when all three of us were bathed as a productive day. Although my plans could be to clean the entire house one day, a more realistic goal would be to clean the fridge. Or sometimes just eat the leftovers out of the fridge. Baby steps.