Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Grace at Four

Our sweet Grace turned four this past January. My how the time flies. Grace had a milestone year. She gave up her binky, potty trained, moved to a big girl bed and started preschool. Three was a year of big change for Grace.

I believe three is a hard age because a child goes from being a baby to being a kid. They are learning so much, and often as a parent it is easy to forget they are still so little.

Four may be my favorite age for my children. The physical labor of parenting lessens, and I am able to enjoy their company.

Our Grace is precious. She is smart and funny. She is beautiful. She adores all of us. Her imagination is awesome. I wish I could pop inside her brain and hang out for a bit.

I am excited to watch Grace learn and grow. She is truly a gift. Each year I ask my kids a few questions. Here are Grace's answers.

What is your favorite color? gold (She has never said this is her favorite color before. I didn't even know she knew gold was a color.)

What is your favorite food? chocolate (Jack told her to say that.)

What is your favorite toy? my treehouse

Who is your best friend? Elena

What is your favorite activity? I like to make puppets (This just makes me giggle because I've never seen her make a puppet.)

What is your favorite game? Uno

What do you want to be when you grow up? a doctor and a mommy

What are you thankful for? my mommy

What is the best thing that happened this year? I went on the big kid swing

What do you like best about being four? riding my bike

Grace also wanted to add that she "likes to write rainbows."

I just love this girl's imagination and sense of humor. Four is truly the best.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Six Already!

Our Jack turned six the day after Christmas. He is by far the best Christmas present I have ever received. Time passes too quickly. I cannot believe it's been six years since he was placed in my eager, terrified arms for the first time. I miss baby Jack, but I love Jack at six. He is just so cool.  

Five was a huge year for Jack. Huge! He started kindergarten and lost his first baby tooth. He gained independence in many ways: riding his bike around the block without us, going to a playdate alone, pouring his own juice, doing the drive line at school instead of me walking him in. Our boy is growing up. 

A competitive nature emerged in Jack this year. He discovered our town's skate park and loves to ride his bike down the biggest jump. Whether at the skate park, climbing wall or monkey bars, he loves to push the limits of his physical abilities. He absolutely hates to lose at anything and enjoys making up games for the family to play.

Jack also has such a kind heart. Recently, Grace decided she no longer needed to sleep with her lovey. After tucking her in, I walked into Jack's room with tears rimming my eyes. "What's wrong mommy," Jack asked worriedly. "Grace doesn't want to sleep with lovey anymore, and I'm sad," I replied. With tears brimming his eyes, Jack said, "That is sad." That is the boy I love more than life itself. A boy of contradictions. Tender yet tough. 

Each year I ask my children a few questions after their birthday. Here's what Jack had to say this year:

What is your favorite color?


What is your favorite food?


What is your favorite toy?

Trash Pack and Hexbugs

Who is your best friend?

Jackson and Brody

What is your favorite activity

rock climbing

What is your favorite game to play?

Shark Attack and Frozen

What do you want to do when you grow up?

be a ninja

What are you most thankful for?

my family

What is the best thing that happened this year?

losing a tooth, Christmas and my birthday

What do you like about being six?

I can do more stuff by myself

What do you like best about school? 

"I'm just glad to be there"

I love this boy of mine. Happy birthday sweet Jack! Enjoy six! 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

I Am A Runner

I run. I am a runner. Of course, I am a runner in the same way that I am a writer. I am a runner not because of any acclaim, not because I am good at it. I am a runner only because I run, or maybe we should just tell the truth and call it jogging. Nonetheless, I run.

I may be the world’s worst runner. Picture a three-year-old child running toward the swings, arms flapping, zero form, just trying to get to the fun. That is what I look like running. It is ridiculous.

Besides that, I do not actually like to run. It is hard. I sweat, and I can’t catch my breath. My face gets all red and my legs ache. I also find it incredibly boring. Mainly, I just think about all the things I want to write. I create worlds and opinions and arguments as I stomp down one foot in front of the other.

However, I still run, usually, a few times a week. I do this because I know the end game. I know when the run is over and I am standing, hands on my knees, in my front yard or on the treadmill, trying to catch my breath that I will be happy that I ran. I will have a bit of pride and a deep gratitude. Pride in the discipline to do the work and gratitude for a body still able to exercise hard.

I run so that I can chase my children around the soccer field. I run because my own mom had a stroke in her mid-fifties. I run because I am stubborn. I run because I am anxious. And truth be told, I run because I want to be fit and thin.

Running may not be a cure all. I may still have a stroke in my fifties. Running doesn’t always keep my anxiety in check. But, it does make me free. And strong. And brave. And tough.

So I will keep running and writing. I will scratch both out in spite of my skill or grace in the endeavor.

You can too, you know. Whatever the thing is that you want to do, just get to doing it - one foot in front of the other, until one day you find your elusive nine minute mile.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Jack's Last Day of Preschool

I didn't expect it to feel like a punch to the gut. For months, I knew the day was coming. How is it then that it snuck up on me?

Winter lingered long this year. Maybe the May snow tricked me into thinking I had more time. But sure enough, the last day of preschool arrived like a thief in the night.

Last day of preschool

First day of preschool

Do you know those first day of kindergarten posts that always pop up on Facebook and Instagram? The ones of tentative children and weepy mothers? I've always thought those were slightly dramatic. I mean, the kids are going to school not to war. Oh, silly me, I was wrong.

That morning as Jack dressed and headed out the door, I couldn't even get him to stand still for a momentous photo - the last day of preschool. The end of an era. Didn't he grasp the importance? No, he just knew snack would probably be something sugary since it was the last day. He just wanted to get there and be done.

I snapped a few forced shots before loading us into the car. My throat caught and I couldn't breath right. What in the heck was happening to me? Surely, I could make the drop without a meltdown.

Jack bounced out of the car and into his classroom. He was excited and full of energy. I held back tears and refused to make eye contact with the other mothers. After walking out of the little red schoolhouse with Grace on my hip, I sat in my car and weeped. Weeped as if my baby boy had gone to war.

Baby Jack is gone. He is bike riding, Lego building, fence climbing, doing it on his own Jack now.

I miss baby Jack, but I love five-year-old Jack. He is funny and interesting. He is my heart, always has been, this first born child who challenged me. Who still challenges me.

I counted down the years that day in the car while wiping snot with the back of my hand, because surely I wouldn't need a tissue on the last day of preschool. 13. Only 13 more years until high school graduation. That is shorter than the time I have been out of college and wasn't that just yesterday?!

So long baby Jack. And don't mind the crazy lady sneaking into your room after you fall asleep. I may crawl in beside you and smell your hair and watch you sleep. Like I used to when you would fall asleep in my arms nursing. And don't mind me next month when I wield my tissues and weep as I drop you off for kindergarten. 

Monday, June 30, 2014

Back to Blogging

Wow! I stopped writing. I stopped writing everything a few months ago. For the past few months, I have been annoyed. I have been primarily annoyed at my children; however, I have also been annoyed with others too. I have not been pleasant to hang out with.

Over the past week or so, I have asked myself the question of why I am so easily frustrated. First, this feeling of annoyance creates incredible guilt. I have a wonderful life. I love my family. My husband is seriously the best man I know. My kids are mostly well-behaved and adorable. My life is full of gifts I do not deserve. I want for nothing.

So, my first revelation in processing this feeling of annoyance was that it is circular. I feel tired and annoyed then I feel guilty and the guilt creates pressure to be less annoyed which makes me more annoyed. Silly really, but true none-the-less.

Then, I started reading "Dad is Fat" by Jim Gaffingan. This has been the best therapy. I hit on the solution and the cause of my annoyance problem in one of Jim's chapters.

"The blurbs are meant to be (hopefully) funny, silly, and/or insightful. Some of these observations will lean toward a dark, sarcastic take on the prison sentence that is parenthood... Occasionally I receive comments that associate my musings with being anti-family... This could not be further from the truth. I love being a parent and enjoy finding the humor in parenting... You joke about it. That's how you deal. If parents don't like being a parent, they don't talk about being a parent. They are absent."

As I have dug into my faith: reading the Bible, going to Bible study, trying to be a Biblical wife. In doing those things, I lost my sense of humor. I stopped talking like myself. I started trying to emulate someone else. The Proverbs 31 wife maybe? I don't know. But at some point I decided that I needed to be more mature and serious. The problem is I just don't work well that way. I cannot write without being honest. And I think parenting little children is ridiculous most of the time. I am like a fish out of water as a mom. I am just flapping around trying to get back in the water.

Yes, I have rainbow and butterfly moments. But mostly, we are a hot mess. There are the occasions when I look at my children and my heart melts. Of course there are. Sometimes we all eat healthy, and go to bed on time. Sometimes I even do crafts or school work. I have days where I feel like a superstar.

Yet, there are many, many moments with my kids that I do not like. For example: waking up to a crying three-year-old at 2 a.m., my five-year-old putting his sister in a headlock in Target, kids refusing to go to bed in a way that makes me want to hunt down Super Nanny. These moments do not make my heart melt. Instead, they make me want to bang my head against a wall.

I lost sight that this is not failure. This is just parenting. Whose kids do not drive them nuts? What mom is perfectly happy when their kid poops in the pool?

My children have humbled me. Especially when there is an audience for the chaos. Recently, we spent a week with family at the beach. I have always prided myself on being a successful, self-assured girl who gets what she wants when she works hard enough. I felt like an utter parenting failure when each night on this trip everyone else was trying to rest quietly in their rooms for the night, and my children were fighting and crying and refusing to go to bed.

So, instead of trying to focus only on the rainbows and butterflies, and writing nothing. Or worrying that what I write will not be taken as comedic survival, I am just going to write what I feel. I am going to share the good and the bad. Because, do you know what? Parenting is ridiculous. It is love and fun and poop and chaos. It is a love so deep and strong I am suffocated by it. But it is also frustration so strong I want to punch a hole in the wall. It is life. I can love it and still want to run away to a secluded island with a stack of books and a comfy pillow. That feeling doesn't make me (or you) any less faithful or any less in love with my family. It just makes us human.