Sunday, May 31, 2015

White noise

The other day, I ran across a poem I wrote seven years ago, before it meant to me as much as it does now. Back then, I lived in a two-bedroom apartment that I could clean in an hour. Back then I didn't have two additional people who could make a mess, but not clean up after themselves. Back then, any time I wasn't at work was my free time to do with as I pleased. I didn't know when I wrote this then that I would open it now and it would mean what it once did, but also so much more.

Without a job, 
alone: to read,
write, think, study, 
solve puzzles. 
So "Walden." 

Or instead, 
watch court TV
and "Dr. Phil;" doorbusters
and garage sales; 
cooking and cleaning -

only challenging 
my intellect to 
volunteer "T!" 
excitedly, pausing 
the vacuum. 

I wrote this to remind myself what was important to me. Then, I thought the time I would find myself without a job wouldn't be until retirement. I wrote this to remind myself what I liked to do and who I was. I was scared of becoming someone so far removed from that: someone who just ambled through time, wasting it rather than spending it.

Today, I find myself with little free time. But I have squandered much of what I have, doing things that aren't important: things that don't challenge me mentally, creatively, or physically. I do things that do not require actually doing anything. I remember after Brandon was born, I had twelve weeks off of work and although people had told me to sleep when he sleeps, I always found myself washing bottles, loading the dishwasher, vacuuming the floors. There was always a distraction from what was actually important.

Now, with these smart phones, I find myself squandering even more time than I used to: suddenly I'm looking at all the photos with the hashtag "losingbabyweight" on Instagram or reading reviews on an item I'm not even that interested in. I'm checking the hours of a place I might not even be going to and interestedly absorbing the overshare of a person I don't even know. It's yet another time waster that distracts me from doing something meaningful.

So last night, I did the very barest minimum of cleaning up. I just rinsed and stacked the dishes. I let the toys remain scattered around. The table remained unwiped, and food was idling on the floor underneath the high chair without being swept up. Then I opened up a bottle of wine and my laptop and resumed where I left off on this novel. I noticed that it had been a month since I opened up that Word document. A month! 

It is always so easy to be distracted. It's always easier to flop onto the couch with the remote. But when I look back at everything I'm proud of and everything I've accomplished, I realize none of those TV hours were ever good for anything. They weren't even relaxation to me; that is a bath and a book. Laziness was just white noise to drown out the voice telling me to do something better, be something more.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

three sheets to the wind means going elsewhere! :)

I have been in a rut lately. I think it started on the flight back to our normal lives from Hawaii. I got a sudden and unshakable case of post-vacation (aka: real life) blues. Vacation was amazing and exciting and fun and carefree. It was all I could have imagined plus some. But then, we flew back to Omaha, Nebraska. Can I just tell you? I hate Omaha, Nebraska. 

OK, maybe I don't fully hate it. I voluntarily moved here not once (freshman year of college), but twice (fresh start after college). So obviously, there is some love there, or once was (isn't it amazing how love can turn from present to past-tense? It's sad, really. Is anything forever?). But years have drug on without anything new or exciting happening. I am an adventurer by nature: I seek out twists and turns and find absolutely nothing interesting about stability (also read: reason behind my shitty resume).

On the flight from Seattle to Omaha, I almost cried that I was leaving a place I love because I live in a place I don't. It all felt very permanent and sad. I wallowed in my rut. I thought to myself, "if only I lived somewhere else, everything would be more exciting." Omaha lenses are no longer rose-colored; they're dusty brownish gray and fogged up with humidity.

But then, that stupid (but oh so motivating) 7 Habits of Highly Effective People book crept into my mind. “If I really want to improve my situation, I can work on the one thing over which I have control - myself.” God damn you, Stephen Covey! You in your infinite wisdom, not allowing wallowing and self-pity, but rather preaching to get the fuck out of our funks and do something about it. You're right, of course. Damn it.

In all honesty, I've had a couple drinks and suddenly transparency seems of the utmost importance. Maybe it always is, but we just distract ourselves with other bullshit. We tell ourselves that acting like we "have it together" and keeping up appearances means more than being honest and authentic and letting people in to the actual lives we live. Well it isn't.

I'm the ripe old age of 32 and I can tell you I have learned so far that I gravitate towards the people who are honest and warm and welcoming: warts and all. Those people who work so hard to cover up the juicy parts about them are dull and fake and really not Friend Material (is it too soon to make a Duggar joke? Probably. I'll sit on that one for a New York minute).

So in all transparency, I do struggle sometimes with very low-level depression. That isn't a clinical term. I haven't been diagnosed, been to a shrink, or even Web MD'd it. I am just ball parking it from what I've seen on movies and read in books. I have spurts here and there that come and go. Basically I will describe it as an overwhelming feeling of loneliness, even when I'm not alone. And these past three weeks have been one of those ruts.

But it's time to climb out of it. I have an agenda and new motivation: convince Steve to get out of this god-forsaken town! (Insert emojis here so you think I'm joking but I'm not really). But really, home is where you make it (Joe Dirt). So let's make it somewhere cool! (emoji again).

It isn't what you have, or who you are, or where you are, or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about. 
~Dale Carnegie

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Preparedness

I have this persistent fear of discovering I have an incurable disease and I will die within a year. So I have mentally prepared for this over the years by making checklists of what I will do once that inevitable news comes (yes, I'm a bit dramatic).

Before, it was adventures I would have, places I would go. I would definitely have to get and use a passport, skydive, give my self all sorts of memories that wouldn't do anything for anyone once I was dead. My life was about me, so my looming death would be about me too, of course.

But as I outgrew my twenties and welcomed my thirties, my perspective shifted. This shift from Super Selfish to Slightly Less Selfish coincided with the birth of Brandon. His arrival made me a bit softer, less self-absorbed.

Some people are much more mature than I am and find themselves caring about others and how their life affects those other people much earlier than thirty. Some people are bigger assholes than I am and find that out even later. Some people are just straight up dicks and end up dying just as selfish as ever.

Anyway, when this fear reappeared to me this week, I marveled at how my checklist had changed. I would first and foremost find a live-in nanny that would treat my children as well as if they were her own children. She would share my views on parenting (at least the important ones) and probably most of my philosophies on life, as long as I could find someone like that. She would make meals for Stephen and support his choice to continue his schooling if he so decided. And although she wouldn't openly oppose complacency, she would certainly never condone it. She wouldn't have to become Steve's second wife, but I would pick someone that I would approve of just in case the family dynamic began to feel natural.

I would also write a lot. I would write journals to each of my children, describing them as I knew them and what I hope for them as they grow. I would tell them how special and funny and smart they are and would overload their egos because that's the kind of mom I am. But then I would give practical advice that they would probably never heed, then one day, after they had made the same mistakes I had, they would look back and marvel at my wisdom.

I would also write to everyone that was ever a pivotal part of my life: whether for decades or for a year or for a split but defining moment. I would thank them for being a positive impact on my life and fill long letters with lots of sappy shit that people never say in person but would write down if they were dying.

And then, after I took care of everyone else as best as I knew how, I would try to find some peace for myself. I would go for long walks and take baths and read books and write for myself. I would chill the fuck out and maybe even start listening to Bob Marley and become super zen. Who knows - hard to tell. Hopefully I wouldn't be one of those people who was just angry she was dying, but rather one of the ones who accepted it and did the best she could with it (as you can see, I've thought this over a lot in the name of preparedness). Hopefully I would look back at the years I've already had and be thankful for them, rather than cursing the ones I never had.

The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.  
~Mark Twain

Friday, May 22, 2015

when the kids are asleep

Many people suggested ways I could carve out more time for my writing, but none of their suggestions involved the care and consideration of the small children who live in my house. I find lots of discussion online about "waiting for the muse" but not enough about having to write in between T-ball games. I want more honesty from people who write books while they have small children. I want to hear from people who feel like they have no time.
~ "Yes Please" preface by Amy Poehler

Preach, girl: preach. I often kick myself for not starting this book ten years ago, five years ago, hell, even two years ago. Really anytime before I had two kids would have been ideal. I try to write something every day: sometimes that's just a blog or a journal entry (OK, who am I kidding, that's what it usually is). But the fact is, I am always with my kids, and I don't want to be one of those moms who sets her children in another room and goes and does her thing. I mean, OK, sometimes that sounds pretty nice, really, but then when I think of my kids instead of me I decide not to. 

So that gorgeous time each night after both the kids have fallen asleep and after I've cleaned up countless Cheerios and Goldfish is all I've got. The time between their bedtime and mine has grown and grown and now I find myself up until about 1 each morning, trying to get in some workout time, a shower, some relaxation, some reading, some writing. I am always tired. I operate on coffee and distractions.

What I really need is someone who gives as much of a shit about my children as I do to come over in the mornings, let me sleep until about ten, then give me two hours to write. I'm not talking about a babysitter who turns on the TV and then sits on the couch with her phone. That's the problem - those peeps are a dime a dozen, I'm sure. I remember babysitting and trying to avoid turning on the TV at all cost. We went on walks, played games, cooked, jumped on trampolines, ran through sprinklers. I am a firm believer that children should be interacted with, spoken to, treated like the growing people they are.

I have this small window of time when my children haven't yet learned to Google and look to me for all their knowledge. I know everything to them, and I will teach them all of it. They want to be with me? Then of course I will be with them! These days are fleeting. Some days I tell myself, just push back this book and work on it once the kids are in school. But the fact is, there will always be an excuse, a reason to procrastinate and the book is in me now. I don't know what kind of book will be in me then, but I have a story to tell today. I don't have writer's block or lack of inspiration, I just have a lack of time. But Amy Poehler did it, other parents did it, and I can do it too. I will just buy more coffee. A lot more.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

eyes and hands

Here are some of my favorite photos of the boys this week: 
 Those big brown eyes, I tell you what.
 Holden's face is so funny to me.
 Show and tell. Always in this house.
 Something is funny.
 I love his chubby hands reflection in his sunglasses.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Bye bye, ba-ba

Yes, my son was a three-year-old with a pacifier addiction. So what? There are worse things, right? But it was embarrassing. Steve and I found ourselves apologizing for it to complete strangers who would ask if B & H were twins. "No, this one is three, but you wouldn't know it since he still uses a pacifier like a baby." Trying to shame Brandon in that way didn't phase him. We tried everything except trying to get him rid of it.

I was going to cut him off cold turkey on his birthday so I never had to write that opening sentence, but we knew the Hawaii trip was coming up soon and I figured it would be nice to have on the airplane, and for calming down fits. Then, the day we came back I couldn't take it of course, yada yada: always an excuse. So on our first normal day back from our trip, we went to the library and picked out a book about a pig who discovers he no longer needs his pacifier. And I read it to Brandon and told him he could have his pacifier for three more days.

I've found that communication is key to any relationship. If you want to be a good spouse, parent, child, employee, boss (you get the idea), you should share the knowledge you can to keep people informed. No one likes bad surprises sprung on them and I wasn't about to rip the pacifier out of Brandon's mouth and say "bye bye!" For those three days, we did a countdown each night: "Three more nights with my ba-ba," then two, then one. Then, on Sunday night, as Brandon was getting into bed, he asked for his ba-ba.

"Remember? Last night was your last night with your ba-ba. You don't need it anymore!" I told him. I expected a relentless crying fit, but he remembered our agreement and went to bed without crying and without his pacifier. The next morning I said, "how was your first night without your ba-ba?" and he replied, "I don't need it anymore!" We rewarded him with a set of Thomas trains. Bribes are really pretty fool-proof around here. Last night marked his third night without his pacifier. It really wasn't all that hard to break that three-year habit, I just had to actually try.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

the impossibility of safety

My boys are what you would expect from boys: rowdy and rough. And I love that they like to wrestle each other, to play ball, to climb into their fort. They are quintessential little men in that way. But unfortunately, this lifestyle of theirs leads to bumps and bruises and scrapes. And with each bump or bruise or scrape, I freak out. Not just freak out, freak the fuck out. I am that psycho mom that coddles her child over a tiny cut while he's saying, "I'm fine, mom!" Have you seen The Goldberg's? I'm Beverly Goldberg. 

Before these boys, I probably assumed a kid with scrapes or bruises was neglected - that any child properly supervised would also be safe. I've quickly learned that is not always true. My children are properly supervised and even still, they find ways to bang themselves up. Sometimes, Holden will knock his head against something while I'm holding him. He will just headbutt something because that's what he does. If I'm Beverly Goldberg, Holden is Steve Martin's kid on Parenthood that bangs his head against the wall.

I always promise Brandon when he is scared that he is all safe with mommy and daddy and nothing can hurt him, but I know that he can still get hurt. I wish I could save him from everything harmful, but the fact is, I can't. I want to put my boys in bubbles and keep everything evil and hurtful away from them. I want to be everything they need, even the impossible. But maybe that's what's important: not what you can do, but what you will attempt.
 
I think we have a moral obligation to our children that can be easily summarized: number one, protect them from harm. 
~ Tom Allen

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

so much left to do

 
Here were some of the things we did in Hawaii:
  • Glass-bottom boat for the kids (surprisingly, a bust)
  • Snorkeling (not me, but everyone else)
  • Mopeds (a highlight! The best)
  • Ziplining
  • A magic/comedy show
  • The main luau on the island
  • A lot of time at the pool, and some at the beach
  • Tourist shops 
  • Good eating at local restaurants
 
 
Here are some of the things I'd still like to do if I had another week in Hawaii:
  • Fly to Oahu and check out Honolulu and the Pearl Harbor memorial
  • More mopeding
  • Get a henna tattoo
  • Snorkel (since everyone else has)
  • Walk along the beach walk that I didn't discover until the last day
  • Take Steve to the Hard Rock Cafe
  • Hike (somewhere with a waterfall)
So, is it time to go back yet? I'm ready. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Island kids

You can expect this week will be all about Hawaii. I have hundreds of pictures, and plenty of adventures to recount. It was honestly the best week of my life. I haven't been on a real vacation except for my honeymoon, and I spent the week of my honeymoon lying in bed with a pretty terrible sunburn. So yeah, Hawaii was pretty awesome. Of course it helped that my  mom offered to watch the kids quite a bit so that us parents could hang out with our siblings and go on excursions together.

There are so many rainbows in Hawaii. I actually cropped a rainbow out of this picture.
 Uncle Chad is the cool uncle. Both of my boys love him.

See?
Oh my god, this girl- she is so beautiful.
"Grandma, your tan is making me look pale."
Here's a picture where I didn't crop out the rainbow.
Holden is trying to be big now - eating apples and such.
It is fun to watch waves crash against the seawall.
Holden loves an elevator ride.
"Saryn, you forgot your hat!"
More to come. So much more. Looking through and editing my photos allows me to relive the moments again.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Wowee! Maui!

We just got back from Hawaii (that's right, HAWAII! I would insert palm tree and hibiscus emojis if I was writing this from my iPhone). I really should be sleeping, but I had to at least peek at some of these photos. I'll share a handful tonight and more throughout the week as I get caught up.
 I love a good profile shot against the water.
A palm leaf fell right near me. I'm pretty sure that would have knocked me out.
When the girls are getting ready, the boys (and I) are waiting. 
 
This kid loves the sand. And crawling towards the ocean at an incredible rate. 
My mom is so tan, "tan" doesn't even work.
Coaxing Brandon to look happy (and he was, until he saw the camera).
We went to a luau.
The male hula dancers were just alright. 
But the female hula dancers...well, let's just say I wish I could make Steve this happy.
As kids do, they loved the pool. The pool also tired them out quickly.
This spot is pretty perfect. 
 The gang's all here.
 And here.
 Joel in a nutshell.
 Mom looking great, dad wearing knee-high socks with shorts.
 The original Peleskys
Like I said, I love a good profile shot against the water. More to come.