Saturday, July 25, 2015

Stumble? Get back up.

Now that I've been home for just about a week, I have sort of sunk in and processed things a bit and I'm ready to start sharing my many MANY "aha moments" from my trip. This one isn't directly related to the conference itself or anything that the wonderful speakers said, it is simply a realization that a busy, sorta tired, sometimes moderately frazzled momma of three came to when she had some time away to focus on her and fill her cup.

As many of you know, last week I was gone for four nights, and five days. It seems like a light year ago and I have only been home for less than a week. Since I have been home, it has been a game of catch-up and I was feeling like we hadn't had any really good play time together. You see, sometimes with three little ones, even things that are super-fun in theory, end up being a little overwhelming to actually make happen. First it is getting everyone ready and finally out the door and loaded into the car. Then there is getting to wherever we are going. Then there is the hyper-vigilance that is necessary in most places when you have three children, two of which are 2-year-olds. While we usually have a great time or can at the very least pick some bright moments out of our adventures, there is a underlying level of stress that accompanies them. It wasn't until I was a way and solely responsible for me - getting myself ready and out of the hotel room, feeding myself, getting across the street safely (haha), entertaining/occupying myself - that I really understood what that meant. Basically, for the last 5 years (and even more heightened in the past two), I have been living at a slightly (slightly? Haha) elevated stress level...we'll say I have been incredibly alert (ha) nearly every moment!! Woah. Talk about nuts! No wonder I WAS that "busy, sorta tired, sometimes moderately frazzled momma of three"! What an eye-opener!

It makes perfect sense to me now why I have felt like we have not done much at all over this Summer break and simultaneously that we have been busy enough to not really fully enjoy just playing together like I longed for so much at the end of last school year. So here we are just barely one month away from the huge transition of Nolan being in Kindergarten ( and I'm like, "Woah...what the heck happened? What about the playing all day every day we had planned for summertime?" It is time to stop being busy worrying about things and time to GET BUSY playing!!! This morning I went on a little "hike" (read: nature walk) with the kids and it was so fun. Granted, it helps that they were really amazing today, but we'll just go with it being my new (re-found really) awareness of the need to connect and play. 

We had a blast! I took a chance and left the Ergos in the car, hoping the girls would just go with the flow. Twenty feet away from the car and roughly five steps onto the trail, Alice face planted. Oh Lord. I thought that was the end. Haha. But, I picked her up, brushed her off, gave her a little pep talk and we moved right along. What!? Way to go, Alice! She ended up tumbling at least two more times and got jabbed in the lip by Lilah's stick once too. Lilah fell once or twice as well, but somehow each time I just helped them up, made a goofy noise while I brushed them off...or dabbed up the blood...and then we moved forward. We collected sticks and rocks. We watched the river pass by. We stopped and listened to the birds chirping and the wind rustling the leaves. We decided that some of the rustling was surely bunnies, snakes and mice in the bushes. We found some glitter on the ground and decided it was magic fairy dust. We flexed our muscles so we could be so strong and walk up the big hills. We put our arms out wide (or held a momma hand) and walked on "balance beams". We ran through the grass. And then we made our way back to our car (without a single fuss...what!?) and drove home in the perfect time for nap and snack. 

AND THAT, MY FRIENDS, IS WHAT I WANTED SUMMER TO BE ABOUT. know what? I'm going to take a lesson from my little ones today. I'm going pick myself off and brush myself off - all the stress, the worries, the fears, the insecurities of motherhood, of the past 5 1/2 years, 2 years, 2 months...whatever...and I'm gonna move forward. Here's to making the best of every moment of the last month of Summer break and then here's to transitions and to making the most of those moments too!

On the trail.
Should have put N in bright clothes too. We can barely see our leader. ;)
Stick Collector.
So brave. Nolan and Alice blazing the trail.
Reaching the "view point". Taking it all in.
Showing me her muscles and how strong she is to get up the hill.

He walked the whole way to the spot of sunshine in the top right. It's all about balance, right?
My resilient little one and her walking stick.
The end of the trail. All smiles.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Gotta play!

It is funny. Having multiple children can be a blessing and a curse when it comes to my balancing act of my priorities. Of course one of my biggest priorities (and desires) is pending quality time with them – getting down on the ground and really playing with them. Yet my other priority of…pretty much accomplishing anything (be it work, make a call to set up an appointment, a trip to the market, COOKING MEALS, general pick-up of the house, laundry, working out, whatever) has to fit into the day somewhere too.

I know, I know, I know…the old adage of children don’t keep and you can leave your dishes and laundry and all that, but that only works to a degree. At some point, all that stuff really does have to get done. And it isn’t realistic (at least in my world) to save it all for during nap/quiet time or after bedtime. So unfortunately too often our play time ends up unfocused on my part. I will play a little, fold a little (all in the same room), play a little, pick up toys a little, play a little, make a call, and so on.

When it was just Nolan, this would have never worked. I was the only one around and we played for hours. It also took me FOREVER to get anything done, but with only one it didn’t matter as much…it is more of a balancing act now. With three, they so frequently entertain each other (the blessing part) that I can convince myself without much work that they are playing together, that it is important for their relationships and development and all that, and I busy myself elsewhere (the curse). I really do think that this is good for them. I really do think that I don’t need to be “entertaining” them 24/7. BUT…I too really do understand that MY relationship with them also needs nourishing.

All of this has really been at the forefront of my mind lately as I’m working through Chalene Johnson’s 30 Day Push. I have been looking at my day, my time management, my goals and how I’m going to reach them, focusing on attracting what I want, being positive, being the mom, friend, wife, person that I want to be and more. More times in the past couple weeks than I can remember in months, we have chosen to stay home and play vs. get ready, load up, and go on an outing. Sometimes our outings are all about them – the zoo, the library, N’s school, whatever - and those are awesome, but those are the times when I want them to discover and play independently of me. Sometimes our outings are not all about them – going to the market, running an errand to the bank or the post office, etc - and sometimes these are unavoidable. And honestly, I’m ok with that too. I think it is important for them to understand how things work, what goes into making our lives happen, picking our healthy foods together, and yadda yadda. But again…not times for me to really get into play with them…obviously.

So…enter conscious change.  Last week for the first time, I pulled out the dried kidney/pinto/black beans for the girls to play with and they played for over an hour and a half. Two other days this week, we have had lengthy, delicious (and of course nutritious) play-feasts. Nolan has LOVED me “cooking” for him and serving him multiple course meals and calling him “Sir”. The girls have really started to get a hang of the play kitchen thing too. I have had to actively avoid getting too involved in the picking up as we go along, but the kids have actually been pretty amazing about helping me clean it all up when we are done! More time has been spent cuddled under blankets on the couch or in beds reading books, and more. It has been awesome.

Honestly, it has so much fun. But I know how easy it could be to slip back into our old habits. I guess that is part of why I’m sharing this. Perhaps putting it out into the world will help hold me accountable to my goal of sticking with it, playing more and being more focused in our play. Maybe you are a momma (or a dad) who struggles with the exact same thing…or something similar…and reading this will bring it to your attention and can help you too. I know for me, until I was really thinking about my days and my goals, I didn’t even realize how out of balance I felt.

Here’s to playing more in 2015! (with a few seconds set aside for photos. Hehe)

This is what an hour and half in looks like.
Nolan saw the beans sitting out and has since asked to play with them about four more times. :)
My little Chefs.
One of the many feasts they prepared.

Friday, November 21, 2014

This is life with kids. Crazy, beautiful, drive-you-nuts, fill-your-heart-with-joy-until-it-nearly-explodes LIFE.

We seem to be on a rhythm of one super awesome, smooth, nothing but fun week, followed by two REAAAALLY rough, pull-your-hair-out, count-down-the-minutes-to-bedtime weeks, then back to smooth, and get it. We were in the heart of loooooong stretch of ugly late last week and I was nearing my breaking point when a few things crossed my path of awareness.

First, we went to our preschool's Harvest Festival and Lantern Walk - 24ish preschoolers, plus older and younger siblings, plus parents, one medium-ish sized room, a potluck dinner (that my baby girls ate zero of), freezing (literally) temps for a short walk in the woods lit by lanterns (preschoolers and fire) and then clean up. It was after this somewhat beautiful (and rather overstimulating) event that I realized something...something very simple, but so important. This is just what 4.5-years-old looks like. That's it. It isn't that my world is upside down and all out of sorts. I'm not doing it all wrong and ruining my kid. It is that 4.5 is crazy. Fast running, rough playing, loud voices, big emotions, crazy. My heart settled slightly.

Second, I came across an article on Scary Mommy (if you are unfamiliar with this blog, immediately familiarize yourself). It is entitled "Wound Up Parent Syndrome (WUPS)". As always on this site, the author uses humor to make you think...and feel, to bring you down from your cliff and make you understand that you are not alone. If you have small children, it is really a must read. Parenting is hard. Motherhood is hard, even alienating at times. It is amazing and I'm eternally grateful for my job as Momma, but holy moly, sometimes you need to know YOU ARE NOT ALONE and YES, THIS STUFF IS NUTS!

Finally, way back when the girls were born, I was told about a podcast called One Bad Mother (they also have an FB page) . I listened to it in the weeeeee (I mean wee) morning hours to try and keep myself from falling asleep sitting up on the couch, strapped into a giant pillow with my babies hooked on to my boobs. ;) After a while, with packing and an out-of-state move and starting Beachbody Coaching and wanting to listen to trainings and the rest of crazy life, I sort of lost track of it. I'm so happy that last week, I discovered it once more! This episode is about mommy ruts. What they are, how to break them and a whole lot of laughter. Ruts, y'all. Ruts. This is a great episode. Check them out! Though be warned: lots of swearing. If that isn't your bag, you may wanna hold off. ;)

I'm pretty sure these three occurrences were aligned by the Universe especially for me to talk me down and bring me back to my heart and my life. This is it. This is life. Three beautiful (albeit crazy) babes running laps around my house (literally...we have a floor plan that is equal to having a race track in our home), screaming and laughing. Three babes who do not always want to play together or sometimes all want the same toy. Three babes who are learning how to negotiate social expectations. Hours spent in the kitchen cooking and cleaning up. Hours spent trying to get out of the house...and then trying to get home in time for the next meal or sleep time. Too few showers. So much laundry. Tears. Laughter. Joy. Frustration. LOVE. This is it. It is hard as hell, but I'm not alone...I can do this and I am so grateful that THIS is my life. <3

5 Alternatives to Throwing Out Thanksgiving Extras

Late last night while I was working on sewing my girls' stocking (yes, they are going to share one this's an improvement on the "no stockings" of last year. They take a while), I was watching Conan O'Brien. During part of his opening bit, he mentioned that every Thanksgiving, Americans THROW AWAY $282 MILLION in uneaten turkey! That is nuts! Apparently that works out to be over 250 million lbs. This doesn't even include extra stuffing, cranberry, potatoes, green bean casserole, rolls, etc that are tossed out. My brain nearly exploded when I heard that; it got me to thinking...and thus:

5 Alternatives to Throwing Out Thanksgiving Extras

1. The simplest of them all...BUY LESS! If you are just going to throw it out, don't buy it! And with the extra money that you aren't spending on excess, think about upgrading to an Organic or even a Pastured turkey! It is a little more expensive, but it is healthier for you and healthier for the planet! And you're buying fewer pounds anyway, right?!

2. Send your guests home with leftovers! No need to hoard it all yourself. ;) Ask your guests to bring a "to go" container with them and send them home with a bit of turkey love.

3. Be creative with leftovers. Don't just reheat the same ol' Thanksgiving meal over and again. Sure, that is bound to get boring. Re-invent it. Of course, there is the obvious turkey sammy for lunch. Make it into soup. Add the meat to a casserole. Make a breakfast bake. A salad. A pot pie. A quick "Thanksgiving leftover recipes" google search will yield tons of ideas!

4. Donate it. Contact a local shelter and see if they are accepting donations. After Nolan's first birthday, we had a ludicrous amount of sub sandwiches left, so we called up a shelter and they took them off our hands happily!

5. This is probably my favorite - package up some leftovers and truck them into town (or down the street...or wherever) and offer them to the homeless. Take your kids with you and teach them about generosity, taking care of others who are less fortunate and how important it is to treat everyone with kindness and dignity. :)

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Nolan's 4th Birthday!!

Waaaaaaayyyy back on the 22nd of February, our little man turned a whopping four years old. Sadly, this blog has taken me nearly three months to get done. Boo, me. BUT! Here it is. :)

Four! Four! Can you even believe it?! In the past year, he has changed so very much. This time last year, he was just a toddler (or at least it seemed like it). He had soft curls in his hair and had very little to say. He was as he now says, "a Santa Monica boy" who loved going to Joslyn Park down the street from our house, walking down to the ocean, was just barely figuring out how to ride his scooter and lived for Angel's baseball (unless you drove him 2+ hours in traffic to a game all to have it begin with fireworks...then he immediately wanted to come home...ha!). He had little understanding of what being a big brother meant and had only jumped in puddles a handful of times. He wasn't in school. He was in diapers. He watched way more TV than I would have ever wanted him to as I figured out how to tend to his sissies, including Rudolph and the Toy Taker at least 3 times a week and Toy Story 2 about the same.

Now, one year later, he is a little man. He has short hair ("like Mike Trout") without soft curls, he has been in undies since last fall and he has almost a full year of preschool under his belt. He is obsessed with wearing belts as well (hehe). He is a scootin' daredevil, lives in the Oregon 'burbs and hasn't seen the ocean since last July (oy...gotta work on that). He is an incredible big brother who is very well versed in the ways of both big brother tenderness and big brother tormenting. He has jumped in puddles more times than I could ever count...and has laid in them too. His TV watching is at a much more ideal level (ha), but Frozen is magical. He still loves Rudolph, but only watched it a few times around Christmas. He loves music and is way more aware of current "hits" than I am (thank you, Daddy, for your musical ear), sings them pitch perfect and talks pretty much non-stop. He is still an avid Angel's fan, struggles to understand why they don't show the games up here as often and yet still knows the entire starting line up. He loves all things fire department related and can entertain himself for hours with matchbox cars and a four foot long orange track...well, hours is maybe a bit of an exaggeration, but it is pretty sweet. He loves to have conversations with his stuffed animals and "marches" like a Jungle Book elephant numerous times a day. He is an adventurer, a scientist, a love bug and a tester. He keeps us on our toes and fills us with love.

To my little monkey man: I love you, Bug. You are absolutely incredible and I cannot wait (alright...lie...I can...take your time) to see the man you become. You are my biggest teacher and I'm sorry that sometimes I'm a crappy student. Thank you for trying anyway. Thank you for choosing me as your momma. I'm so honored and so very grateful. You are my Sun forever. xoxox

Happy 3rd birthday! Crepes with nutella. Yum. Santa Monica. Home. February 2013.
Birthday adventure to the Griffith Park pony and train rides. Los Angeles. February 2013.
Playing with birthday T at Joslyn Park. Santa Monica. February 2013.
March 2013. Bug and friends.
Sicky boy. Tired, really pregnant momma. Cuddling and watching TV...probably Rudolph. ;) March 2013.
Alice, Lilah, new Big Brother! April 2013.
Mother's Day painting. May 2013.
Santa Monica's version of a puddle. ;) May 2013.
May 2013.
What a big bro. May 2013.
Coming into his own and upping his daredevilness. Clover Park. Santa Monica. May 2013.

Ha. Love him. June 2013.
My little baker. June 2013.
Lilah, Bug, Alice. June 2013.
Bug and Lilah (I think). Sibling love. June 2013.
Me and my sick, sick Buggy less than 12 hours before our flight to our new Oregon home. July 2013.
Oregonians Day 2. Bug being silly and wanting a ride in the ergo. July 2013.
July 2013. Imitating sisters. ;)

Yup. August 2013.
Alice, Bug, Lilah. August 2013.
August 2013.
Now THAT is a puddle! September 2013.
Town builder. September 2013.
September 2013. 
First "real" fall. October 2013.
Pumpkin patch. Cold temps, mud and all! October 2013.
October 2013.
Big splash! November 2013.
Fall downtown. Novermber 2013.
Momma and babes. November 2013.
Bug and Alice. December 2013.
Lilah, (giant) Bug, Alice. December 2013.
Getting a tree...from a farm. December 2013.
Lilah, Bug, Alice. Merry Christmas Eve. December 2013.
Bug reading to Alice. January 2014.
Bug's first real snow and first snowman! February 2014.
Bday trip to the zoo with the Grandmas. Here with Abuelita and the hippos. February 2014.
Happy 4th Birthday!!
Bug and his grain-free, refined sugar-free, cocoa/coconut cake! February 22, 2014.
Make a wish! Not sure why the hands...Hehe. February 22, 2014.
Daddy, Bug, Me. Yes we are wearing nearly matching flannels. Ha. February 22, 2014.
And then we learned just how powerful cocoa powder is. Bug and I both had crazy caffeine highs. His was funny. Mine sucked. February 22, 2014.