Monday, April 27, 2015

strength and determination

It doesn't get easier, you get stronger.

Saucony posted this on their Instagram account, and I paused to reflect on that. Of course, that applies to running and yoga and exercise and training of any sort. But it also applies to so much more:

Like Gracie being a part of me apart from me.

Like being the hard ass that I need to be for my kids when I really just want to snuggle them and give them everything in the world they ask for.

Like standing up for yourself.

Like mustering up the self-control to eat a salad for lunch every day.

Like figuring out a job no one taught you how to do.

Like finishing your college degree. 

Like anything in life that requires discipline to do well (and that is just about everything).

It doesn't get easier, you get stronger.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

bathtime

Yesterday, I gave the boys a bath, and it was a disaster. I dread bath time all the time, actually. Holden is that age where he tries to do everything big boys do, but without any of the coordination. So he loves splashing around in the bathtub, standing up, sitting down, dunking a ball in the hoop, turning over - all while being held in my two hands as I attempt to save him from himself. We have one of those bathtubs with the sliding doors on it, which means I have access to only half the bathtub while Holden has access to the entire thing. I am outnumbered and out-resourced.

Yesterday was especially bad and I spent the entire time nagging, admonishing, and yelling at my kids ("Don't drink the bathwater! It's icky yucky!"). After wards, I swore I was done giving them baths. "Sponge baths only for you two from now on!" But then, of course, as boys will be, they were boys and filthified themselves today in the backyard. So of course I gave them baths again.

And today, the boys were the same - Holden on the move, Brandon sucking down bathwater. But this time, I was calm(er). I laughed at their shenanigans and realized how much more fun it is not to ruin their fun. Kids love baths. I get it - what's not to love? Baths are the best. But damn, I wouldn't like them if I had some pissed off woman kneeling outside the tub nagging at me the entire time.

Not too long ago, I read this quote: "the difference between an adventure and an ordeal is attitude." And if I remind myself of that, buckling them into their car seats, errands, hell, even bathtime is an adventure. I'm much too young for acting this damn old, after all. The rest of my life I can be grumpy and haggard. But not while my kids are still filled with joy. I don't want to rob them of that during this tiny window of time called "childhood" where happiness is the norm, not the exception.

Monday, April 20, 2015

mom stress

It's easy to forget how much our kids can understand. They may be small, but they certainly aren't dumb. I say things mostly to myself, to verbalize it and vent, and Brandon hears me and knows what I'm saying. I remembered this the other day when he said, "I'm so stressed out." That is one of those things I say to myself aloud. "How can you be stressed?" you ask. "You don't even have a job!" Let me tell you: this stress is mom stress. It might be worse than your work stress. No, each situation doesn't last as long, but it is still very real.

Like when I'm buckling Holden into his car seat and Brandon is in the parking lot and sees a leaf he decides to chase. Or when I go check on Holden and see a blanket over his face and quickly check to make sure he's breathing. Or when one of them gets hurt and it's too late for me to prevent it. Basically, seeing my child in danger of any sort is the greatest stress I've ever had. And yes, it is a moment, not a week or a month, but it is intense.

Yesterday I went swimsuit shopping and brought Brandon with me because he would have cried for dad if I had left him. That was a mistake. He was crawling under the dressing room door, trying to run away while I was trying to find this elusive not-skimpy but also not-middle-aged-mom swimsuit that would cover all my mommish parts (so of course I had to go with the middle-aged-mom swimsuit because there is no in between - oh, and Steve reminded me that I am a mom and I am middle-aged. Thanks, babe).

When we got back, in my discouragement (probably mostly about my age and body, but also a touch about Brandon's behavior), I said that Brandon wasn't a good boy at all today, but at least one thing got accomplished: he made me decide that we weren't going to have any more kids. I was venting aloud to myself mostly, maybe a little to Steve. But Brandon ran to the living room and laid on the couch, looking depressed.

After the dust had settled, I went over to Brandon, gave him a hug, and told him I said some mean things because I was upset but that I love him and I know kids don't usually want to do what the adult needs to do.

My kids will certainly never grow up thinking their mom is perfect, but hopefully they see that I'm trying to be someone better. When I'm not too stressed out to be rational, that is.

Friday, April 17, 2015

April sun

 It feels like summer! I already have a sunburn/Holly tan!
Holden was diagnosed with a double ear infection and put on Amoxicillin. Then he broke out in these red bumps that cover his body. I thought he was allergic to Amoxicillin like his mama, but the doctor said this is the virus interacting with the medication and it should go away. It's still here and getting worse so I'm hoping it's gone tomorrow.
 Got him some shades so he can be like the cool kids.
 Want to give your kids endless fun without leaving the house? Fill a sink up with water for them.
 I love the color of my house next to our tree's blossoms
 What's going on up there?
 I also love these dangly things. I have no clue what they're called, but I have a suspicion googling "dangly things" will not yield my answer.
 Watch out! This kid loves to play the iPad.
Holden half sneering, half smiling at me is fine by me: I'll take what I can get.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

walkin' tall

This kid took his first steps two weeks ago, and hasn't made much progress since. I blame it on the walker that he's been scooting around in for six months now. It gets him from here to there, sure, but doesn't teach him walking as much as thrusting his belly forward to propel it. He can't seem to break that habit yet. But yesterday, this happened:
 
Then today I saw him standing on his own. We're almost to his much-more-independent phase. I think I'm ready for this. Some things get easier when they walk. And then, of course, some get harder. I have a feeling I will have to worry about this one in parking lots.

Friday, April 10, 2015

an old short story

What a crazy invention the internet is: it prevents old memories from dying. I found a link in an email folder to a short story I wrote six years ago. It didn't win, and I know why, but it was fun to re-read and reminisce.

If you're dead bored: scroll down to the seventh story.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

look to the stars

Astrology is probably a crock of shit, right? I mean, most likely. The premise is that their are twelve basic types of people in the world and their characteristics hinge on when they were born. Sounds a bit far-fetched to me. But even still, I find myself venturing to one of those websites every now and again, to try to make sense of people that way.

I am sure all of the characteristics used in these things could relate to anyone, but maybe once we realize it about ourselves, we allow it to be more, agreeing it is a part of us rather than trying to fight it off. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy, maybe. Once we know there is a reason for it, we allow it. And that reason can be stars, the way we were raised, whatever. I guess once you stop fighting what you didn't feel you should be you can just be.

I guess the other reason I get curious about these things is because my husband is the Virgoiest Virgo there ever was. I mean, someone must have studied him, then written down all that stuff about being analytical, reliable, and skeptical. I am a Pisces, but I never thought it described me very well. That is, until the last time I looked at it and realized it's mostly true. I thought I was more of a Leo when I was younger, but as time marches on and I have left jobs that didn't suit me and I have felt free to relax and be myself, I am realizing more and more that I am a Pisces.

Anyway, I looked it up again awhile ago because I realized that both of my boys are the same sign. And they act very opposite now, so I was curious as to what characteristics they could potentially have in common. One key word is independent, and although I've always found that in Holden, I didn't see much of that in Brandon. But tonight he asked me to leave his room rather than fall asleep with him and when I went up there to check on him, he was fast asleep: curled up in the corner all by himself. Damn it. I liked feeling needed.

Some of their other words are generous, optimistic, enthusiastic, courageous, moody, short-tempered, self-involved, impulsive, impatient. (Wait, am I an Aries too? Astrology must be a crock of shit because I'm all of these signs!) I definitely see much of those in both of them, in different ways while manifestations still of the same quality. It's funny how you can be so similar yet so different at the same time. I guess that is astrology in a nutshell, if you think about it.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Aspiring yogi

On May 15, 2014 I first tried yoga. I know because I wrote this Facebook status:
"Holy shit! How do people do yoga? It looks so easy but it certainly isn't. I'd rather run 4 miles."

I got through 12 minutes of my 45 minute DVD. That was all I could do. I was falling all over the place, sweating profusely, and confused. But believe it or not, I did it again. Every Wednesday, I made myself try the same DVD. I got over my first hurdle: I got all the way through it. And not well, mind you: I was still falling all over the place, stopping to rest when I shouldn't, taking the easy modifications and making them easier.

But pretty soon, I found myself wanting to do yoga more than once a week. I liked flexing and using all of those muscles I have that otherwise lie dormant. I liked the feeling of strength I got from all the Chaturangas. I was running too, but running did something different for me than yoga: running was my sweat therapy, but with yoga, I found myself folding deeper into stretches and being able to move in new ways and that transformation was addicting. I got a couple more DVDs and started adding those in: doing each DVD once a week so bringing my yoga up to three to five times a week.

Yoga is the practice of constantly losing and regaining your balance, and I find that parallel to my daily life beautiful. People always talk about the mind benefits of yoga, and although I have never done any meditating or humming of any sort, I have noticed that yoga clears my irrational emotions, centers me. If I am in a bad mood, I know yoga will calm me down, chill me out, and balance me again. Once Steve and I were in the middle of a fight and I went to the basement, did a yoga DVD, then came back upstairs and apologized.

Then today, about a year after that first day I tried and hated yoga, I was able to lift my body off the ground using only my hands. This is as close to levitating as I get, people, and damn right I felt like a Superhero. I think yoga is here to stay.
When you create balance through a practice like yoga or any kind of discipline—whether it’s running or knitting—whatever it is that puts you in the zone where you’re truly focused, that’s where you can let that wandering stuff go so that you can truly be present and listen to things instead of listening to that negative self-talk.
~ Jes Rosenberg

Monday, April 6, 2015

holiday weekend

Brandon had a pretty action-packed weekend with dad having the day off on Friday, then his birthday on Saturday and Easter on Sunday. He got some pretty cool presents, his favorite being a toy leaf blower from his uncle Chad.
Today I gave both boys haircuts and baths, mopped the floors, did yoga and kept the kitchen clean. I think this must be the most productive day as a stay-at-home mom ever.
I really have nothing new to report, nothing in particular to write about, I just wanted a platform to boast about how cute my boys are with these pictures.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

begins with a single step

When Brandon was smaller, I used to wonder how parents ever stopped marveling at each new thing they learn. Every milestone of his I wanted to write down, so I could remember it when he was older and I was more weathered, less amused. I praise him for the most mundane things, because it is the first time I knew he could do it.

But after the first time doing anything, accomplishments are no longer feats and become ordinary. The first time Brandon pooped in the toilet I FaceTimed Steve, danced and whooped and loaded Brandon up on reward sweets. But then the first time I found poop on the floor, I admonished Brandon repeatedly like a bad dog, now expecting him to always poop in the toilet like he did the first time, but without the jubilation. Things like this lose their luster quickly, I suppose. I used to be so impressed by Brandon's speech, asking him to recite some of his best things for people like he was some sort of circus monkey. Now if ever there was something he couldn't say, I'd probably be disappointed in him for what he doesn't know, rather than proud of him for what he does.

Today, I watched Brandon playing soccer with his friend and I realized we are past babyhood and even past toddlerhood into boyhood. Playing soccer is something he could be doing at three and still at seventeen. He is growing into a man and it is frightening but exciting all at the same time. There will be many more milestones still. And yes, the ones he has already passed have turned ordinary and lost their luster, but the exciting thing about people is that they are always growing and changing.

And just when I thought it wasn't possible to mourn the loss of your children's babyness anymore, Holden took his first step on his own tonight. Right in the front yard, barefoot in our grass. I am looking forward to boyhood with my little guys. And I might sniffle a little at how fast their infancy fled from them, but not because I don't want them to grow up, but rather because I'm so impressed at how well they're doing it.