Looking on the Bright Side

Time for a post of happy things…

Last Friday, I got a day all to myself.  Well…  With Ruby, the 8 month old.  Same thing, really.  I decided with the boys gone, I would use that day to start sleep training her for naps and bedtime.  Well…  Little Noodle was way ahead of me, apparently.  She fully cooperated – and has been sleeping like a champ ever since!  It’s currently 8:21pm and she’s been asleep, in her crib, for over an hour.  Success!!!

In addition to getting the little one to sleep well, I managed to clean, organize, do three loads of laundry, and read.  Like…a book.  And write.  And daydream.  Outside.  On the porch.  It felt like I was being incredibly irresponsible, sloughing off my responsibilities.  In other words, it felt wonderful.

On Saturday, our family went to one of my favorite places to pick blueberries.  An amazingly beautiful farm, tucked up in the hills of Wisconsin, near the Mississippi River and Lake Pepin.  It’s one of my happy places.  And much to my delight, I discovered my son is an awesome blueberry picker!  (And I think he had as much fun as I did – and has already asked to go back.)

Sunday, I snuck out for a bit.  We have lived in our new house for over a year, and still have nothing hung on our living room walls.  I visited a few shops to try to rectify that situation.    I found a couple of things…  On sale, too!  Gotta love it.

That evening, we grilled kabobs for dinner!  And grilled some fresh pineapple, too.  Deeeelish!  We don’t grill near as often as we used to (too many mini-people running around with tight schedules to stick to).  So this tasted even better than usual.  AND, we had blueberry cobbler for dessert.  Perfection.  Summer meals make everything seem brighter.

Have to admit, I had a rough morning with my boy…  Thought my good vibes had already come to an end.  BUT…  This afternoon, after his nap, he and I cuddled up and watched videos of the Okee Dokee Brothers on Youtube for an hour.  (Not something I normally would do…)  He is fascinated with bluegrass instruments – guitar, banjo, fiddle, mandolin, bass, harmonica, drums…  And has been pretending to play them all day.  We have a coffee can that we have turned into a drum (that is actually pretty cool).  It’s cardboard, with a plastic lid, and a metal bottom – so lots of different noises are possible, depending what you use to play it!  He was experimenting with it all afternoon.  I’m in awe of how his brain works.  (And need to find someone to start teaching him some instruments!)

 

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A piano outside an antique store in Stockholm, WI.  A street performer in the making!

Another high point today was simply getting the mail.  Besides receiving my fun new hairbands from amazon, I got the sweetest note in the mail from a lovely friend (and former youth group kid).  Her card simply said that she appreciated the “honest, authentic” perspective that I share about life in general.  I’ve been afraid, beginning to blog again, that people would take my writing the wrong way….  Some of it may seem really negative or like I’m complaining about being a parent…  But really, it’s just my perspective from the now.  If I wrote about these things years from now, I’m sure I’d look back with rose-tinted glasses.  But right now is hard.  And that is ok.  It’s real.  And for other moms going through the same things – we need to hear it from each other.  Because it’s a lonely road when most people say, “it gets better;” “you’ll miss it someday;” “you’re just lucky to have kids;” “you’re so blessed.”  And yes, while I agree with all these things with a whole heart, sometimes it’s nice to hear, “you too?!  Ugh…”

So, yes.  I loved this quote, sent from my friend (it’s now hanging on the wall right next to my computer):

 

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Life is what we make it.  But it gets knocked around a lot by influences outside our control…  So it’s important to look on the bright side!  What’s your bright side today?

 

July: Currently

Another blog I used to read did a quick “where am I at?” post once a month… And I love it. It’s so simple, and yet – a great check in. So, I’m going to give it a try! Here goes:

coming to terms with being a stay at home mama of two littles.  One was work, and fun, and surprising, and manageable.  Two is different.  A handful, chaos, frustrating, and exhausting…  Finding the joy takes a little more effort from me somedays.  But I’m lucky – I have two adorable goofballs.  We’ll get there.

feeling burnt out.  Busy holiday weekend.  Both kids still wake up at night.  The two year old was up to his new tricks today – busy, busy, busy.  It was a tough day of balancing discipline and compromise.  Ugh.  He’s smart, persistent, energetic, talkative, and cute.  Sometimes its hard to be mad…  And sometimes it’s hard not to!

looking out my window.  Storms are rolling in.  The birds are getting their last snacks from our feeders before racing off to hide from the winds and the rain…  It’s suddenly much darker…  Which only makes me more sleepy!

starting to get back on track.  Looking for the magic in each day.  Recording those moments in pictures, Facebook posts, and journal entries.  I learned from Sawyer’s baby days how much those little memories mean to me…  I love looking back on them already!  (And so does he!  He looks through my pictures and asks me to tell him the stories…  Pretty sweet.)

laughing at both the kids.  As exasperating as they can be, they’re quite the team.  Today, Sawyer was pretending to give a concert in our living room.  He’s standing on the ottoman, holding his “guitar,” talking through the intro of his song, then singing screaming some unintelligible nonsense while jumping around.  Ruby, who I thought would be terrified by this display, proceeds to bounce and clap, cheer and laugh when we was done.  Oh brother.  They’re quite the team.

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squeezing in a little quiet before dinner.  By the time Hubby got home today, I was done.  Fuse was short.  I just needed a break.  He took the kids for a walk, and in a moment I’ll make dinner.  But the last 45 minutes was just what I need to recharge before dinner, baths, and bedtime…

And…  Storms brought a power outage during story time   We lost power for 16 hours!  I’m finishing this post the next day.  Ugh.

believing life is good.  Even through the storms.  Literally, and figuratively.

thinking I’d love a family vacation at a cabin this summer…  On the water.  Something to soothe my soul and nerves…  (Not likely to happen.  But I can daydream!)

knowing Ruby is almost on the move!  She’s rolling, rocking, pulling herself partway up on things…  Life is about to get even crazier.  (I’m kind of excited for her to chase Sawyer around…  Is that mean of me?!  Hee hee.)  Time to start contemplating child-proofing, again.

fighting – or arguing – with the 2.5 year old all. day. long.  He’s an emotional mess these days.  One moment he wants to do something for himself, then he screams and throws something because he wants mommy to do it…  And then, regardless of whether I do it, he will cry and scream for the next 30 minutes.  Somedays, life seems impossible for him AND me.  He’s feeling a lot of things these days.  And they’re big feelings.  And apparently, I’m the wrong person to help him through them…  So we sit at an impasse most of the day.  It’s exhausting to say the least.

thanking God, everyday, for these kiddos.  They make me crazy.  Like, somedays, certifiably crazy.  But…  They can be sweet, cute, funny, amazing, lovable little creatures, too.  I’ll keep them – God help me!

being me. The good days and the not so good days…  Pluggin’ along.

Road Trip!

Ahhh…   The dreaded road trip – with a baby.  What usually takes 5 hours to get to my mother-in-law’s house, now takes at least 6 hours, usually 6.5.  Lovely.

But here’s the thing – I LOVE our rest stops!  It’s great family time!

We bring a giant picnic blanket and find a shady spot in the grass.  Get the babe out of the car, let him wiggle and crawl and play. Change him.  Feed him.  And play.  Lots of play.  Gotta say, after a long week – this can be pretty fun times!  (Even the dog gets in on the fun.)

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Daddy is trying to eat his lunch…  With Sawyer and Bailey doing their best to make him give it up!  (Mr Tough Guy!)

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Stretching his legs – with wiggles and dancing, too!

Today, we found some great McDonald’s with nice, big trees and grassy areas around their parking lots.  Perfect.  Isn’t it funny that we now rate places to stop along the way by who has the nicest lawns?  I’ll be very sad when winter comes and we actually have to sit inside… and behave… and use the icky changing tables…  I plan to thoroughly enjoy the rest of the summer road trips!

What are you – particularly – loving this summer?

 

Thankful Thursday

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It’s that time again…  Time to focus on the good in life!

It’s been kind of a rough week, so today I’m even more excited to remember what I’m thankful for!  Here goes:

  • A husband and kid that like a little adventure.

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  • Thunderstorms.
  • Having a pool in our neighborhood…  So fun.

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  • A couple more pounds lost!  Woohoo!
  • A little visit to the fabulous ladies I used to work with…  So fun.
  • Making progress on a big project at our church.
  • Being part of honoring a police officer that was shot in our community.  A special experience.
  • Continuing to tackle projects around the house…  The never ending process…
  • Our 10 year old poodle, still playing like a puppy.
  • This coolish summer.  Loving it!
  • Hee hee…  Sawyer had his first poop in the tub – and my husband was giving him his bath (thing to be thankful for #1).  I was downstairs cooking dinner, listening to the giggles and clean-up.  Thankful #2 – a husband who is grateful for the funny moments, too.
  • Bedtime stories and prayers.
  • A kid who is willing to try any food – and likes most of them!
  • A husband who eats whatever I cook – even when I’m on a diet.
  • We’re all consistently sleeping through the night.  Hallelujah!

What are you thankful for today?  Feel free to comment or share your blog link in the comment section!

You Just Never Know

Today was a sad day for our community.  A police officer was laid to rest after being shot during a “routine traffic stop” last week.  It happened in the community that I worked in for 10 years, and that we go to church in – so Sawyer and I went to honor the soldier, standing along the funeral procession route.  We joined many people from our church, and several community members – waving flags and saying “thank you” to the thousands of officers who drove by.

I knew it would be emotional – what I didn’t realize is how this is sticking with me.

I kept thinking about his wife and daughters.  How they probably said a quick good-bye that morning, all heading in their own directions…  Taking for granted that they would see each other again that evening….  Or maybe it’s different when you know your family member is a police officer?  I’m not sure.  But, I’m pretty sure, you never expect to get the call that your spouse or dad has been shot… in the afternoon… and is now gone.

Oh, my heart hurts for them!

I’ve always said I didn’t think I was a strong enough person to marry someone who was a policeman, a fireman, or in the military.  I couldn’t imagine not knowing, every single day, if that person would come home for dinner…  And yet, what makes me think I’m safe from something happening to my Assistant Director of Parks and Recreation husband?  Seems a pretty harmless job…  But you just never know…  That’s the thing.  You just never know.

My family members and I always say, “I love you,” before hanging up the phone.  Even my closest friends and I say those words at the end of a conversation.  And yes, Mike and I say it all the time – and always part with a kiss.  Cheesy?  Maybe.  But if anything ever happened, I’d want to know we told each other we loved each other.

Life is short.  It’s unexpected.  There’s no guarantees.  So tell those around you that you love them.  Say “thank you” often and always.  Treat others with kindness.

And thank those who protect our communities.  And their families.  They deserve so much more credit, respect, and thanks than we tend to give them…

Thank you Officer Patrick.  Your sacrifice did not go unnoticed…

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Made it Monday – Pool!

We finally “made it” to the pool this summer!  (Which is silly…  We live in a neighborhood with two beautiful pools…)  Between the summer being a little cooler than usual, our vacations, the pool hours (opening at 10am), avoiding the peak sun times, Hubby getting home around 4:30…  And Sawyer’s dinner and bedtime rituals beginning at 5:30pm…  We just hadn’t made it to the pool yet.

It’s August!

And we’re so pale!

(I usually half live at the pool during the summer!)

But we finally made it.  Sawyer was wearing all the ridiculous sun-protection clothing and sunscreen.  He looked hilarious.  (But I saw the news last week – apparently, we’re all going to get skin cancer.  So might as well protect the next generation from the very beginning…)

We started gradually.  I sat on the step with the little guy.  He dipped his toes and we splashed a bit.  He was slow to to smile.  But eventually thought that was pretty cool.

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Then, we let him stand on a step.  Since he loves standing anywhere – that was a big hit!  Now we were having fun!

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Mike eventually took him into the water and pulled him around a bit – then the smiles really came!  And he started kicking – loving it!

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He was perfectly happy lounging in Daddy’s arms, enjoying the show that all the other kids were putting on.  He was entranced by the splashing and laughing and yelling.  The pool “noodles” even caught his attention – curiosity peaked.

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So cute.  What a fun way to spend our Sunday afternoon!

Isn’t it funny how the simplest things become magical again, once you have a baby in the house?  Watching them experience things for the first time is so enchanting.  The wide, bright eyes.  The wonder.  The uncertainty.  The excitement.  The joy.

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It was pretty clear to the other moms at the pool that it was Sawyer’s first trip to the pool.  (They all had that knowing smile and chuckle as they watched us…)  One mom even offered to take our picture.  I love it!

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Did you accomplish any goals lately?  (I hope they were as fun as a day at the pool!)

My Heart Hurts

Ugh…  I have to stop watching the news.

As a new mom, everything just seems so overwhelming…  Everything brings tears to my eyes.  It all just hurts.  Hurts my heart.

Internationally, we see Israel and Palestine continuing the wars that have gone on for centuries – and now they’re bombing schools where innocent children and women are seeking refuge?!  We watched the Malaysian plane go down in the Ukraine, apparently hit by a missile?!  What kind of heartless people do such a thing?!  When I see these stories on the news, my heart starts racing and eyes start tingling…  I think of those mamas – living in war torn places, never knowing when their world will be shattered by the loss of their husband or kids…  And I wonder, how is it that I’m lucky enough to be sitting here, on my patio, on a peaceful summer day in the middle of Minnesota… with my biggest worry of the day being the question of “what is killing my garden?”  It’s not fair.

Nationally, on the news this week, I’ve seen tornados and wildfires take homes and lives.  I saw a random lightening storm take the life of a young man while he was surfing in Southern California.  I saw a small plane make an emergency landing on a beach in Florida and kill a dad who was walking the beach with his daughter (and who earlier that day sent a note to his wife, excited to live their next 100 years together)…  So much sadness.  So many lives that started out with ordinary days, waking up with loved ones one minute – and gone the next.  It’s too much.

And last night, in the area of the Twin Cities where I worked for 10 years, a cop was killed during a “routine traffic stop.”  He was in his forties, had served that town for 19 years, had a wife and two teenagers…  As I watched the news unfold and the manhunt commence for the killer, the tears flowed.  What does it take for someone to lose it to the point of killing another human?  I just don’t get it.

And yet, our country does nothing about tightening laws on guns.  Gee.  Wouldn’t want to hurt that lobbying group.  (Can you feel the dripping sarcasm?  Sorry about that…)

Maybe it’s because I’m a mama now.  But I see these stories differently now – I’m more raw than I used to be.  A year ago, I could watch and witness, and know that these things were far away…  I’d pray for the situations and people involved, and secretly think, “Thank God that didn’t happen to me…”  But now, I physically hurt for them.  And I think, “My God, what if that happens to me?”

I refuse to live a life of fear.  I won’t stop going out and doing the things I love.  I won’t let Sawyer grow up scared…  But.  It will hurt.  This world has become so violent – it feels relentless at times.  I find myself scared for him – for what he will witness and endure in his lifetime.  I know I can’t protect him from everything…  But I hope I can raise him to be strong, kind, and hopeful in the midst of whatever this world hands him.

But for now…  I’m going to turn off the news for awhile.  (Not forever – I believe in being informed.  Just for now…)

My heart needs to heal a little.

Remembering Today

“What do you want to remember about today?”

The fact that it is an ordinary, everyday kind of day.  Nothing extraordinary is happening.  Nothing spectacular.  Nothing over the top crazy fun.  It’s just a day.

And it’s worth remembering.

Remembering…

…Sawyer’s big smile and giggle when I went in to get him this morning – sitting up in his crib, gripping his monkey, bouncing up and down with excitement as Mommy wished him “Good morning!”

…Toys and blankets scattered all over the floor in the loft.  Giraffes, mooses, books, balls, rattles, a “minky” blanket, the star that plays classical music when shaken…  All kinds of fun to be had!

…His first glimpse of Elmo.  A big smile.  Suddenly interested in what it is happening on the TV.

…The drool-y, messy, open-mouthed kisses that have begun.

…Walking away to change the laundry, and peeking back to see Sawyer crawling towards things that are off-limits – with a grin on his face.  Oh boy!

…Watching the dog sprawl on the blankets, til the little boy make a beeline for her.

…The hubby coming home for a quick lunch break – with kisses for both of us.

…Sawyer giggling with black beans, sweet potatoes, and cereal in his mouth – and oozing out…  What a mess!

…The fragrance of clean laundry.

…The warm taste of fresh coffee in the morning.

…Catching a glimpse of this:

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…The feeling that life is good.  I’m where I’m supposed to be.  I’m loved – and have so much to love in return.

 

What is worth remembering about your day?

Fabulous AND Flawed

Awesome.

I’ve been dieting recently – but I keep a stash of Dove dark chocolates in the house so I can have one purely decadent moment a day…  Yes, it’s cheating.  Yes, it will probably slow the weight loss.  But heck!  Life is short – and what is life without a little chocolate?!

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So, I open my little rule-breaking cheat today – and inside the wrapper, it says, “It’s OK to be fabulous and flawed.”

YES!

Haven’t you always wanted someone to say that to you?

Seriously.  First and foremost, I am fabulous.  So are you.  Fabulous.

Now quick – name all the ways you’re fabulous!  No holding back – just yell out the things you love about yourself!

Here’s a few of mine:  I’m… a good listener.  I’m always laughing.  I find the good in just about any situation.  I usually have a twinkle in my eye.  Heck – I like my eyes.  They’re pretty.  I’m creative.  I love God.  I’m thankful.  I like to cook – and do it reasonably well.  I’m a wife, daughter, sister, friend – oh!  And mom.  And I love all those roles.  I like a good adventure.  And a good book.  And making a new friend.  I love life… all the nitty gritty and the pure magic.

Ok…  So first we have to admit we’re fabulous – just the way we are.

Now…  It’s ok to be flawed.

It’s about time!   Hallelujah!

I’m totally flawed – you?  My hair frizzes out to Timbuktu.  My feet are wide (like – think “duck feet”).  I cheat on my diet.  I don’t exercise enough.  I procrastinate.  I don’t always follow through.  I can be really naive.  And gullible.  And too trusting.  I’m stubborn and like to do things my own way.  I rarely floss.  I can be lazy.  I can’t use Twitter for the life of me – no matter how many times I’ve tried to get on board.  I have no idea who “One Direction” is – and I don’t care.  I haven’t read “Fault in Our Stars” and I probably won’t for quite a while.  If I could eat pizza every day for the rest of my life, I would.

Perfectly flawed.  (And there are so many more for that list…!)

It’s a nice little reminder, though, isn’t it?  It’s OK to be fabulous and flawed.

Good thing because I’m pretty sure every one of us is both.  And it’s OK.  Laugh it off.  Celebrate the good.  Be thankful that the flaws aren’t worse than they are!

And then, enjoy the magic that is today…  And for goodness sake – enjoy it with some chocolate!

What Do I Do?

I took out my “Q&A a Day” book this morning, and the question I flipped to asked,

What do you want to say when someone asks “What do you do?”

Ha!  I’m still figuring that out!  This is the first time in my adult life that I haven’t had a paying job, a workplace to go to everyday…  And yet, “What do I do?” seems even more complicated than ever before.

I’m hoping, soon, I’ll be able to say, “I’m creating a home for my husband and kid to thrive in with love, stability, and joy.”  That sounds like a nice mission statement for a SAHM mama, right?

Although, some days, I’m happy if we don’t have any meltdowns, I catch the poopy diapers before they explode, and I can actually get the kid to eat and sleep on some sort of schedule.  Oh, and get the bottles cleaned before I need one.  And keep the dog and kid apart so there are no nips and growls.  Oh yeah…  And now that he’s crawling and we haven’t quite baby-proofed yet, chase him around and keep him away from any dangers.  And make dinner.  And that pesky laundry…

And still find time to encourage the kid’s discovering of new things, trying new tasks, singing and playing on the floor, reading books (over and over again), tickling and laughing, going for walks or adventures…

And then Hubby comes home…  And we try to have dinner together, feed Sawyer, give him a bath, read to him, and put him to bed…  By the time that’s all done, I’m exhausted.  Normal, right?  I know.  But…  I’m working on finding more ways to be “present” in the evenings, too.  I pictured staying at home as a gift not only to the baby, but also to my husband.  I hoped to make his life easier, too.  And I don’t know if I’m really accomplishing that yet.    We’re still figuring it out.

I’ve always been a homebody – and so far, I really am loving this new job.  I feel like I do pretty well with the kid.  I’m working on maintaining the house in a way that a little gets done everyday – so it never becomes an overwhelming chore.  I’m starting to cook healthy meals again – which feels FANTASTIC!  I’m making our own baby food (which is so fun and easy – and makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something!).  I’m starting to get out more, both with and without Sawyer.

We’re getting there.

What do I do?  I’m creating a home for my husband and kid to thrive in with love, stability, and joy.  The key word is creating.  Meaning, it’s in process.  It’s happening – slowly, with hiccups, and lessons to learn.  But we’re on our way.  And that’s what matters.

How would you answer the question, “What do you do?”  And what is “in process” in your life?  (I’d love to hear other stories of where people are at – and where they’re headed!  Life’s a journey…  Right?)