Friday, July 18, 2014

The Last Night

I wrote this the night before last.

Last night was clear, not a cloud in sight to disrupt the evening sky. It was one of those clear nights when airplanes look like fireflies blinking brightly from 35,000 feet up. 

"So this is what it feels like to walk pain free," I thought. I breathed in the night air, cool from an unseasonably mild summer day. My back has been in severe pain for weeks now and finally, by some miracle, I am feeling relief. Thank goodness for my heating pad, which has literally been attached at my hip, allowing me to have moments like this, where I get a small glimpse back into the magical world of walking upright. 

Last night was one of those lazy summer nights where I battled to keep the warmth from my heating pad from pulling my body into a deep sleep while trying to finish paging through my latest book of choice. In the middle of it all, a sudden movement jerked me back to reality. I looked down to see my phone vibrating, "Dad" showed up on the screen. I don't talk much about my relationship with my parents on here for various reasons, most of all because this is a public space, but I can say that it is somewhat rare for my father to be calling me at 9:30 on a Wednesday night. 

"Hello?"

"Katie, Odie is acting strange. He is lethargic and just not himself. Can you give me the information for the emergency vet?"

"Sure, of course," I said rolling off the couch cautiously but quickly, as fast as my current condition would allow. I hobbled over to the fridge where our most frequently used magnet hung, waiting to be useful again. I heard some back and forth on the phone, something about no pencils in the house and I told him I would text him the information. He thanked me and the next thing I knew, I was waking up to two emails. 

I don't even know why I checked my email right when I woke up of all things. If anything I will scroll through Instagram or read a few Facebook posts, but most days I don't have time for any of that. But this morning it seemed as if by some force, I was drawn to my email. I opened them in chronological order, the first one explained that Odie was in surgery and he had a 50-50 chance. The second one simply said that he had severe liver cancer and did not make it. He was only 7 years old. I found out later that the vet said it was genetic, he was doomed to this fate since the day he was born. I hate typing those words out for a million different reasons, most of all because Odie was my father and my brother's dog. He was the glue to that part of the family, a source of comfort and unconditional love as all dogs are. It was shocking and tragic. No warning, nothing. I remember back in 2007 when our first family dog passed. It was inevitable. He was old and we all knew it was coming. But this, this was one of life's mysteries that I will never figure out. Tragedy so swift and upsetting should not have any place in this world, along with about a million other awful things.

These past few weeks (months really) have been very difficult. I keep surfacing from all of these terrible, crippling events, moving from the negative to embrace the positive, but with each event it gets harder and harder. I am ready to move on from the negative. So for now, I am using this time to remember my father and my brother's best friend who left us on a clear July night. 

We will love you always Odie.


The First Sort of Slumber Party



If I had to think back, it was years and years ago that I remember my first slumber party. It was at my next door neighbor’s house when my mom went to the hospital to have my sister. I was 7 years old. I do recall a time before that, sleeping over at someone’s house and watching the movie “The Labyrinth” of all crazy things, but I’m not sure if that would be considered a true sleep over since at least one, if not both of my parents were there. Still, I think I was more like 4 or 5 when that happened. I guess being a child of the 80s, whenever I think of slumber parties, I think of kids being 6-7 at the youngest, more like 9-10 really since that’s when I feel like the big slumber party boom happened in my neck of childhood. So imagine my confusion when I got a text message last Friday morning inviting Emma to a sleep over at her cousin’s house the very next night. 

A million questions ran through my head all at once and when the noise from my befuddled brain finally quieted down I was only left thinking one sad thought, I have never slept apart from Emma before. We’ve never been apart and I’m not sure that either one of us are ready to let go of that yet. I knew even before that revelation manifested, that a not quite potty trained 2 year old wouldn’t make it through the night in an unfamiliar setting. In fact, there have only been three times ever that she has not slept in her own bed (two different week long vacations and one weekend trip.) And let me tell you, actually getting her to sleep away from home is a nightmare that will haunt my parenting dreams forever. Don’t get me wrong, it was a ridiculously generous offer for this mother, my sister-in-law, to be taking on 5 girls under 5 but I just could not bring myself to leave Emma there between the lack of potty training and knowing how she reacts to an unfamiliar bed. So instead, I went with her for the earlier festivities. 

Of course my anxiety ridden mind played out ever negative scenario that could have happened but instead of her rolling around on the ground screaming because she didn’t get to color purse she wanted or throwing toys all over the place, she actually followed along with the older girls and engaged in the activities. She really enjoyed herself! She shared while playing with bubbles, she sat on the floor and colored her mask (yes later she did break it after being told not to wave it around). She sat and ate pizza and popcorn and watched a movie. She laughed and jumped and giggled and genuinely had a good time. She even almost played dress up but as soon as I got the fluffy tutu on her she informed me that she had pooped her pants (great). She also lost interest during the purse decorating but still, all in all, she had a great time. I was really surprised how well she went with the flow. 

So I don’t leave you in suspense, even though she was doing well, we did not sleep over. We did leave at the VERY big girl time of 10pm which is later than any of us have been out for a looooong time. Looking back, she might have gotten upset if I left her alone there but for the next sleepover, I might actually leave for a bit and see how it goes. I know 2 is still way too young but who knows, with the girls of the new Millennium, 3 might just be the right sleepover age. 



Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Plant

I've wanted to write about this since Mother's Day but you can see how that turned out. First of all, I didn't get a before picture of my beloved plant, so you will have to use your fantastic imaginations again. Second of all, if you make it to the end of this post the reason behind my sporadic posting will be (partially) revealed. And so you shall have it, the story of the plant.

As with most of my stories, to understand the story if the plant, you will have to understand a bit about my past. I never had a green thumb, or rather, I have never tried to have a green thumb I should say. Every time I ended up with a plant of some sort (which was rare) it never made it. No plants ever had a chance of surviving with me, except the tumble weed I picked up somewhere in Texas or Arizona on my cross country trip, that managed to stay in my car for almost two years. Ok, so technically it was dead to begin with, but it had personality nonetheless. Anyways, I digress. Maybe I just want to distract you from the fact that I was a truly terrible plant owner of which I feel ashamed. They are living things after all. I think plants for me can be lumped into a category of things I never cared to care about in my past (that I put a lot of time and effort into now), like drinking water regularly, eating vegetables ever, or spending time with children in preparation for parenthood. Looking back, I am sad that I neglected to allow such a small, simple thing to bring me joy.

Flash forward to Mother's Day '14, Emma ran over to me like she always does when I walk through her classroom door to pick her up at the end of the day, Her eyes lit up, her cheeks reached the maximum capacity of chunky cuteness from grinning, and her little legs moved fast in a blurred fury in my direction. However, on this particular day there was something else I noticed. As if it could even be possible, my child seeded to be exuding even more excited radiance than usual while running toward me clutching a tiny pot. I was then informed that she planted some seeds for me for Mother's Day. Whaaaaaaaaaaaat? And that's when the chamber of my heart that stores my ability to care for plants (which like the Grinch was waaay too many sizes too small) grew to the point of exploding with love for this living thing my child had so sweetly nurtured up until this point. Up until this point where it left her hands and entered mine. I'm not going to lie, at first I thought "oh well, that's that" and I set it down on the table at home thinking it would not grow. But low and behold, they very next day there was a tiny little spec of green poking out from the soil.

I know now that my motherly instincts are intact from frequent use so I guess it's no surprise that I suddenly found myself with a sixth child (four dogs + one toddler + one plant). Every day I checked on my plant. I made sure it was sitting where it could get good sun and that the soil was moist Then the unthinkable happened, it grew to the point of needing a bigger pot. It was then that we made the decision to move it outside (yes my husband and I have had several deep conversations about this plant, carefully weighing our options on how to care for it. I told you, sixth child). I should have done more research because I think the plant was meant to be an indoor plant but my husband and I felt it was best to leave it in the direct sunlight outside, thunderstorms and all. Finally, after a dramatic turn of events, I thought the plant had died right before we left for vacation. It had withered and dried out. I was very upset we moved it out into the elements and it was with a heavy hear that I got on a plane to leave my failed child sitting on the back deck.

Then something crazy happened, when we got back from vacation, after the jet lag fog lifted, I noticed that the plant was still alive! I could hardly believe it! And little did I know I would really need that plant. It would become my inspiration when certain unfortunate circumstances happened to our family. Luckily we are still healthy and we have each other but we are going through some of life's rough patches at the moment. It has not been easy on me emotionally. But then I look over at the plant, something so small, something a few years ago I would not have taken the time to even give a second thought, and there it was, still growing. After being left outside to navigate a new world full of challenges and hardships, it made it. It's still alive and standing tall and that's what I need to do now. Take the crap life throws at me and do my best to stand tall, to flourish though all of my challenges and hardships. It's not an easy road, I'm not going to lie, it is so very difficult, but I'm in it for the long run and I'm taking my inspiration from the plant.


Thursday, June 12, 2014

2

Emma,

I can't believe it my dear, the year has passed and watching quietly from my perch, you have gone from a happy go lucky baby to an energetic, opinionated toddler.

The year brought major challenges and triumphs. The "terrible twos" actually started around a year and a half and the tantrums were pretty grusome in the beginning, mostly becasue I didn't know how to handle them. Defiance and testing boundaries has also become a common occurance and major challenge for me to learn how to discipline while nurturing and making teachable moments. I hope I am doing my best to teach you the reasoning behind why you need to do certain things, even if you don't want to do them.

The triumphs have been nothing sort of amazing as I have gone from steadying you while you walk to you now confidently taking off running down the sidewalk. You moved from the "binki" and the bottle to feeding yourself with a fork (sometimes) and drinking from a big girl cup. We have also hit a major potty training milestone (going to the potty unassisted at daycare!) You are happy to go at school but home is another story. We're working on it, but either way I am so thrilled you are moving forward!

Besides the obvious physical triuphs, you continue to amaze me with your brilliant mind. You catch onto concepts so easily, like up and down, empty and full. You know a lot of shapes and colors and we are starting to work on identifying ABCs and numbers! You like to "read" books to us right after we read them to you (aka you memorize what we just read and say it back to us.) You know about a dozen songs and love to sing them in the car.

Besides your amazing mind is your incredible sense of adventure. You will try anything once and love being flipped and thrown in the air (courtesy of daddy as mommy stands by watching in stunned horror.) Ever since you learned how to jump, you will not stop and it's one of your greatest joys. You delight in the simple things. You love collecting rocks and transporting them in your pockets or dump truck. You love being outside and going on "nature walks" which we do frequently. I hope you never lose your love of nature. I am going to encourage and support it as much as I can (even if it means venturing outside in 80+ degree heat.)

You are an outgoing, social butterfly in some situations, but are shy and quiet in others, It's so fun to see you become comfortable with your surroundings and go from a quiet wall flower to an energetic attention seeker.

Some Highlights from the year:
My cell phone camera is always on ther verge of photographic meltdown so I did not capture nearly enough of our adventures (in my opinion) but these are the most memorable.


The day after your first birthday hanging out in your first kiddie pool!

Hanging out with your cousin

First little pony tail!

4th of July

 First trip to the beach!

 First pony ride!




Visit with Santa (you would not sit with him without me) 


 Halloween! Little Red Ridding hood!


Playing in the leaves

 First "flight"

 First trip to the aquarium!

 First real romp in the snow

 First time flying a kite!

 First Easter egg hunt!

 First gymnastics class!

 I did my best to document this past year and I can't wait for what next year will bring.

Love,
Mom

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Second Birthday


It flew by like a dream. It was months ago when I started planning the celebration, coming up with contingency plans for the weather, deciding on food/ cake/ venue, and figuring out every little detail in between. I honestly started planning this party so long ago that I thought it would take forever to get here but sadly time once again won the battle and it's over, gone. My child is two years old now and I am sitting here left in the after party dust, cake frosting and paper product bits are all that's left. It kind of reminds me of the opening scene from "Father of the Bride: where Steve Martin is sitting in his living room with all of the decorations falling down and a bunch of half full champagne glasses and pieces of uneaten cake haphazardly lying about. You look up and realize it's over, that moment is gone forever. But thankfully, I got to take the birthday girl home. She hasn't left me yet! I got to take her home to share in the special moments that only we share and enjoy the inside jokes we have (doughy is a current one - yeah you had to be there.) I got to go to the pool with her the next day and let nothing else distract me, which was the real birthday gift.

The party was a flurry of running around, setting up, leaping on a train, throwing cake at people, and then tearing everything down. I didn't spend nearly enough time with the actual birthday girl or enough time catching up with my friends who I rarely see. It's almost like I was setting myself up for failure by inviting a bunch of people I couldn't wait to talk to and then expecting myself to have time to pay full attention to the birthday girl, all while making sure the ice bucket stayed full. This is how I really felt and this is why next year, I am finally going to embrace the immediate family only birthday party. It was fun for Emma to have a bunch of other kids to play with but honestly when I did get a look at her between the balloons and the ice cream, she looked bewildered, lost....overwhelmed. I think that is the word I am looking for. Maybe big birthdays are meant for big kids and I think I will leave it at that for now.

Overall, the party was a success in that most of the kids seemed to be amused during the 2 hour time span and we didn't run out of pizza, which was my biggest fear. Since I was spending too much time doing unimportant things, I barely got any pictures. I am upset at myself for this but honestly, it was what it was and now you all get to use your imaginations! I know I am an enabler of imaginative wonder!

The party was in a big room at a local park. They had plenty of tables and seating. I was very happy about that. Of course we went with a Mickey Mouse theme (I have a blog post written about Emma's love of Mickey but haven't gotten around to posting it or much else lately which is another post altogether.) I went Party City all the way with the decorations, except the Happy Birthday banner. I made one last year so I decided to carry out the tradition and make one this year inspired by one I found on Pintrest of course.




That was the only thing I made besides the goodie bags (between the banner and the goodie bags I can now professionally free hand cut the Mickey Mouse solute. Hey who says you don't acquire amazing skills from a birthday party!) I did have a last minute panic attack the night before when I foolishly logged onto Pintrest and saw a Mickey Mouse cookie cutter. Of course! I can make EVERYTHING Mickey shaped! I then proceeded to spend Saturday morning scouring the county for this phantom cookie cutter. I gave up after a while and decided my banner was enough of a showcase piece to distract people from seeking out other mouse themed decor/ sustenance.



We had an amazing Costco pizza and cake, both of which turned out well.With everything else, I decided an elaborate cake would be too much so we settled on the Costco cake with Mickey figurines strategically placed. I sadly did not get any pictures of the cake but I feel like the hand placed figurines payed homage to birthday cakes of my childhood.

The big thing at the party was the train ride! It was the longest stretch of time I spent with Emma at the party and also the longest I sat down. It was glorious.

Everyone seemed to have a good time and I feed the kids just enough sugar to rev them up during the party to hopefully have them crash on the car ride home. As for Emma, she was surrounded by family and friends who love her, what could be better...well maybe ice cream!






And that was it, I was George Banksed. It all happened in the blink of an eye. That's it, that's all, that's 2.


Saturday, May 24, 2014

Then and Now Part Two

Yes folks it's back! I have created a follow up to my previous list of then vs now: the comings and goings of my life as a mommy vs my carefree childless days. My new list explores the comings and goings of life with a baby vs life with a toddler. (Some scenarios might be slightly over dramatized.) So for all of my new mommy friends, in order to prepare you for what is to come and to remind myself how life used to be, I give you then vs now: baby vs toddler edition!

Leaving the house then:

Place clothing on baby and load slumbering baby in easy to carry car seat. Throw light as air diaper bag over your shoulder and head out the door.


 Leaving the house now:
 
Fight over the importance of wearing a jacket when it's raining out and explain that the doggies cannot come with us to the grocery store because they will eat all of the food on the shelves. After 15 minutes of back and forth on the jacket and the misfortune of the doggies having to stay home, grab child-sized backpack with crackers, fruit snacks, apples slices, raisins, and grapes. Realize after you get on the highway that your toddler wants blueberries not grapes you inconsiderate fool.


Going to the park then:

Walk at a relaxing pace with baby in car seat/ stroller attachment. Place baby in a swing and you are met with sounds of glee.


Going to the park now:

Sustain incessant wave of "are we there yets" and "I'm hungrys" until you get to the playground where your toddler will refuse to do anything but go on the slide meant for 12 year olds or throw wood chips dangerously close to innocent eyelids or proceed to set up a dictatorship to decide who gets to ride on the merry-go-round.


Feeding then:

Smash up any fruit or vegetable of your choice and watch as your baby happily ingests their nutrition.

 Feeding now:

Anything that is not a carb or bread like substance is the devil and must be eliminated by throwing it to the dogs or spitting it out on the floor. Vegetables are greeted as if they are nuclear remnants from a reactor explosion.


Dressing them then:

Wrap baby in the folds of a cute onesie and they are good to go.


Dressing them now:

Don't even THINK about that thermal with the hearts on it or those grey sneakers because those will be met with rejection (read: 20 minute tantrum). My advise, set out the opposite outfit you want them to wear in hopes that they will rummage through and pick out the outfit you DO want them to wear.
 

Changing situations then:

Show your baby a new toy or shiny object and they will forget about what they should not have.


Changing situations now:

Those scissors were OBVIOUSLY within reach on the far side of the table so OBVIOUSLY the toddler knows they were meant to have them. No shiny object, not even the glisten of fruit snacks will distract them from their new best friend Mr. Scissors and you are the wretched soul that tore them apart which shall NEVER be forgotten.


Bedtime then:

Rock your sweet baby to sleep within 30 blissful minutes.


Bedtime now:

If you make it past bath time, teeth brushing, and pj selection, place toddler in bed and gently remind them they cannot go to sleep with every book in the house. Spend an ungodly amount of time whittling down the bed library to two books and quickly head for the door before the dreaded words leave their lips "I need water."

Friday, May 9, 2014

What I Need to Do for Mother's Day



Mother's Day is a time for rest, reflection, and most importantly spending quality time together as a family. There I just summed up every sentimental Mother's Day blog post and article you will read so you're welcome. To be honest, the past two weeks have been very stressful and difficult for many reasons. But from them, I have taken away something for myself  that I would like to work on. You see for this Mother's Day, I am giving myself a homework assignment, really a life assignment I guess. I know WORK on Mother's Day?!?! But bare with me for a moment.

My mind has been encapsulated in a dense fog for the past two weeks. I keep finding little moments, little beams of light, moments of clarity where I can focus on the amazingness of my child. Since I have been so busy and so mentally exhausted, I have realized the true importance of making the most of the moments I have with Emma. I keep whining on here about how I am so sad she is growing up and yet I feel like I am letting that all pass me by. So my assignment to myself is to really live in the moment and make sure I am giving her my undivided attention when I'm with her. Our afternoons and Saturdays together are two times I can start focusing in on the sound of her laugh, the way her hair curls up on the ends, and how she sometimes bables incoherently really fast about complete nonsense. I want to work on being able to focus in when life gets hectic and crazy.

That's probably the best mom superpower to have, just to be present for your child (ok making sure to always have awesome, Pintrest worthy snacks could also be considered a close second.) She is the purest form of joy I could ever ask for and I need that in my life more than ever. I have it right in front of me, why not partake in the awesomeness that simply is. So that's what I will be doing this Mother's Day and everyday going forward because we all know Mother's Day is every day.

Happy Mother's Day to all of you currently in the trenches and to those who will soon be joining the ranks!