May 5, 2015

A Stubborn Refusal to Laugh: Tuesday Truth Telling

Last night at the dinner table I couldn't keep myself together. I didn't cry or yell, but the deflation I felt left my body in a huff of frustration. I was hoping to have a quiet and involved conversation, with everyone contributing and listening at the appropriate times.

See, we used to do Highs and Lows during our evening meal as a way to connect with each other and gather information about each other's days. Especially from the girls who aren't always willing talk about their day's experiences and feelings. In an effort to gather data from Paige, who seems to be struggling with some recent anxiety, I wanted to use the non-direct "game" to try to gather some clues as to where this might be coming from.

Of course, as a seasoned parent, I should know by now that expectations are dangerous gambles, ones that usually do not pay out. There is little control for how things will go when it comes to children.

Dinner was not full of thoughtful conversation connecting us together, it was loud and chaotic with me struggling to keep the conversation on topic and no one really paying attention. I was upset and frustrated and worked up so, like the adult that I am, I finally sprang up from the table and huffed into the kitchen. (I'm incredibly mature like that.)

I should have let the moment go where it wanted and released my grasp on needing to pull the conversation somewhere specific. Sometimes you just have to let go of the idea you had in your head of how things are going to be, and just let things go where they want instead. I should have done that. I should have let go.

But I didn't.

I got all annoyed and offended and put out that people weren't listening to me and taking me seriously. Instead of a serious discussion about our days and how we were feeling, dinner was full of loud noises and giggling and a vocabulary lesson courtesy of my husband's joke that had the word "ass" in it. My mood was much too serious for the evening and instead of letting their laughter lift me up, I pushed myself further and further down into serious grumpiness. I refused to budge out of my annoyance that dinner was not going as planned and into the much lighter tone at the table.

I do that sometimes. It's like I can't let go of my surprise (turned annoyance) at things getting silly, but instead of just going with it, I dig in my heels and fight it. I refuse to let go of whatever I wanted to be going on and enjoy myself, and instead make myself more and more miserable until I either completely explode in anger or deflate in exasperation.

The deflation feels a lot like giving up, unlike giving in to the moment which feels like changing my attitude and perspective and laughing with my family.

It's sad to me, that I can be so stubborn like this, unable or unwilling to change my attitude on a whim and be silly. Yet, at the same time, there's still a part of me that is disappointed that we didn't have the conversation I wanted and that no one seemed to take me seriously.

Of course, since we weren't going to connect as a family with a serious discussion of Highs and Lows that I was hoping for, I should have seen and seized the opportunity to connect as a family over being silly and chaotic.

Still, I wouldn't turn down an apology, or even just a hug or two.

xoxo, christine

I am trying something new, Tuesday Truth Telling, posting every Tuesday a truth about myself. I think on of the best way to connect to other people is to share our truths. I feel the most connection to someone who has gone out of her way to be authentic and unafraid to share who she is and what she wants and how she feels. Her truth. So I'm going to try that out here. Sometimes the truths may be serious and deep and other times silly insignificant. I have no idea how this will go, or if I'll even keep doing it. But I just wanted to give it a try, to give myself a push into sharing my truth.

May 3, 2015

Too Much TV

I am in need of some rejuvenating. It seems like the time of year itself should give me the boost I need, an excitement that propels me toward summer. But I feel a dull dragging. I see photos posted on Instagram of beaches and mountains and quaint cottages in the country. It all looks so refreshing and I find myself longing for the feelings those photos invoke.

(There is that whole voice that reminds me not to compare my every day to other people's highlights. But that's a topic for a whole different post.)

Hope's school is encouraging a screen free week, and I'm wondering if I should (or could) view this as an opportunity for some rejuvenation. It's not like we watch an inordinate amount of television, or play multiple video games per day, but I understand the importance of breaking away from screens and enjoying the many other ways to spend our time. Still, it might be difficult, not necessarily because of the amount of time we spend in front of the television, but because of the routines we've mastered -- like that of the girls watching a show or two before school every morning, which they have been doing for years.

Our whole family has agreed (more or less) to participate, with a few exceptions. Writing here is one of mine. But it will be good for us to attempt a week without the option of a screen to entertain us. And I am hopeful that a break from technology will give me the boost I've started longing for.

It will at least give me some time to sit in the quiet, or as quiet as my kids will let it be, and focus on my thoughts instead of distracting myself at every free moment with Facebook, email, Disney Channel, Facebook again, Huffington Post, Instagram, Facebook, well, you get the idea.

If I can't take a week for a quiet getaway in a rustic cabin or a relaxing beach vacation with sandcastles and three little girls in polka dot swim suits, I suppose I'll take my glass of screen-free liquid and look at it as a half full opportunity to rejuvenate in other ways. Reading, writing, photography and reminding my kids that it's not my job to entertain them if they're feeling "bored" -- which, by the way, was a four letter word in my house growing up, something from my childhood I am definitely passing on to my own family now.

All-of-a-sudden I'm feeling some trepidation about this whole thing. Sheesh. Pathetic how dependent we've become on needing screens to entertain us.

Crossing my fingers (and toes) for no one going crazy this week.

xoxo, christine

Apr 29, 2015

Mid Week Sunny Days and Sick Kids

It is a beautiful day, the sun is shining, I feel the warmth through the window, the sun's rays casting a glare on the computer screen. A slight breeze sneaks through the open screen, filling the room with the scents of spring, green plants, flowering bushes, wet soil.

I have a baby sleeping in my lap, her head nestled into my chest. Aside from Saturday when she was sick, she hasn't napped on me for weeks (even months?) and I'm enjoying a little extra snuggling. The oldest girl is on the couch, home sick from school due to a middle-of-the-night puking episode, watching cartoons. As her silence turns into comments and questions and her still body starts to move and kick to the music playing from the television, I can tell she is starting to feel better.

The middle girl is currently at school, playing and learning and crafting. She is happy to be with her teachers and friends, but I know she is hoping her older sister feels well enough to do a little playing together when she gets home.

It is a quiet and relaxing kind of day, except for the noise coming from our basement. We've had a steady soundtrack of construction below us the past couple weeks while we get work done in our basement. It will be wonderful when it's done, especially the recessed lighting, but I won't mind when our house can be put back together.

But still, even with the sounds of nail guns and sawing under our feet, it is a peaceful moment. The color is returning to Hope's cheeks as Nora wakes up and wanders the living room and we prepare to pick up their sister. Hoping for more sunny days to follow, preferably with well children who can go out and enjoy the weather.

Happy Wednesday!

xoxo, christine

Apr 21, 2015

Baby Yoga

My baby girl, she likes to practice yoga while she nurses. The stretching and the pulling and the twisting and foot-grabbing, it's like a whole yoga sequence in those few minutes of feeding. I guess she likes to nourish her body while she's nourishing her body.

Her standard move is what I like to call Foot Drumming, when she lays flat against me stretching one leg straight while grabbing the opposite foot in her hand. She swings that leg in a back and forth rhythm, banging her foot against my abdomen.

Both my older girls practiced calisthenics while nursing too, but Nora seems to be taking it to a whole new level. The basic elementary poses are just not cutting it for her flexible little body and she is on to the advanced positions.

Her newest position, Cheek Tickle, starts much like before with one leg straight and the opposite foot in her hand, but then the foot gets pulled up to her face, tickling her cheek with her toes. I've even seen her get her toes all the way to her ear.

So basically, my little bendy baby has her whole body extended with one leg straight and the other leg pulled all the way up so that her toes are touching her cheek. Cheeky baby. (See what I did there?)

I can tell you, she did not get her flexibility from me. Must be courtesy of her daddy, the former goalie.

Nursing a baby who is not staying still is not always fun, but oh my goodness it is pretty hilarious right now, I just can't help but find it adorable. Especially when I look down at her big blue eyes looking back at me with her toes resting on her cheek.

Keep on yogaing my sweet baby.

xoxo, christine

Apr 19, 2015

Trying to Embrace a Messy Life

I'm trying. I really am.

My logical brain knows that life is messy and disorganized, but sometimes my brain is not ruled logically, and the ordered side of me fights with every cell inside me to accept the mess as necessary fact. I want everything to have a place and everything in its place! But life is not clean and organized.

Life is mess and chaos and unpredictable and disorganized.

I know this, and sometimes I can even accept this, but what I really want to do is embrace it. And I'm trying. Most of the time I completely suck at it, it's true. It's hard to break years of wanting everything to fit nice and neatly into whatever box I put them in. It's hard not to freak out when the dirty clothes are sitting in a heap on the floor right next to the hamper instead of in the hamper. When I've told my darling children about 19498402 times to put their dirty clothes in the hamper.

But I want to know how to embrace the mess. How do I embrace the mess!?

I'm not saying that I want to live without teaching my children how to clean up after themselves, or be okay with them not putting their toys away. I just want to be able to avoid completely losing my shit when the art supplies have exploded all over the dining room floor (again!) and there are abandoned pillow forts in our living room (again!), meanwhile the two big girls are off pulling out every outside toy we own into the backyard.

I like my life. In fact, I love my life. I love my children. I love my husband. I love the things that my children are interested in, and that they enjoy drawing and writing and using their imaginations. I love that they are creative and turn couches into houses. I love that they aren't afraid to play with their entire bodies and whatever they can find pull into their games. I love the way they play together, and even apart. I really love my family and where we are.

But (and I hate to use that word because it makes it sound like I'm not happy with what I just said I am happy with), I do not like that sometimes the chaos gets the better of me. I'm not okay with getting mad when they failed to clean up, again. I am fully supportive of teaching my kids how to clean up their stuff, and even giving consequences when they don't. I just need to work on following through on that, because my current technique of yelling and being annoyed and throwing my hands up and wanting to get away from my family and house when I'm overwhelmed and the house is messy is clearly not working well.

I am working on changing my perspective. Chaos is okay. Messy is okay. Messes do not have to be annoying and overwhelming. And they can be cleaned up. And I can help my children learn to clean them up instead of letting someone else do it for them, or living in complete disorganization.

That's the kicker though. Somewhere there is a balance between embracing the messy life yet not constantly living in a mess. Because life is messy, but that doesn't mean our dining room has be messy all the time. Yes, make a mess while you are playing and creating and doing art projects. But then put the stuff away when you're done. I just want to be able to keep myself from freaking out every time my kids have made a mess that they haven't cleaned up.

Life is crazy and messy and disorganized. That doesn't mean there can't be calm and cleanliness and organization in my home, but I just need to have the perspective that the chaos will prevail. That I can't always keep things neat and tidy without missing out on the joy that is the messiness of life. I don't need to yell at my kids and give up on everything when there are toys out in every room. I just need to find the best strategy to teaching my kids to put their stuff away when they're done.

I am trying. It is so hard though. It is hard. I just don't want to spend all this wasted time and energy on being overwhelmed and stressed out about mess. It's not worth it. Either clean the mess up or don't. But it's not worth stressing out if it doesn't get cleaned up. If the mess sits longer than a few days. Its okay. We're okay. In fact, we've got a pretty good thing going on here. And I don't want to be freaking out about mess and chaos and disorganization and not notice the goodness I already have right here in front of me.

xoxo, christine

Apr 13, 2015

It's A Big Deal Day

Last week, along with a five-year-old's birthday and Easter, we had a major milestone for Miss Nora. She turned nine-months-old. Nora has now been out of the womb for more than she has been in the womb.

(Of course my husband, Mr. Stickler For Details, had to point out that Nora came two weeks before her due date so technically she was likely already past that point by the eighth of the month, but I put my fingers in my ears and stuck my tongue out at him and ignored his attention to detail.)

How strange to think that she has been in our outside world for nine months already. Where did the time go? Surely she can't already be crawling and pulling herself up and trying to put everything in her mouth? She was just born! Yet, surely she has also been with our family from forever ago, so nine months really isn't that long at all. Nine months? Only? But how did our family dynamic ever feel complete without her presence?

I am in love with this little baby of ours. The way she smiles and kicks her legs when she sees someone she likes. The way she wrinkles her nose. The way she squints her eyes and shudders every time she tries a food for the first time. The way she leans and tilts her head to the side when trying to see something out of view. The way she fusses every single day when it's time to put her arms through the holes in a onsie. The way she makes a beeline straight for whatever she's not supposed to have, pretty much anything small and chokable. The way she rolls herself onto her tummy to sleep. The way she follows her sisters around the house now that she is mobil. The way she smiles, big and wide, still gummy with no teeth. The way she leans in open-mouthed to give kisses.

The way she fits, just-so into my arms.

Happy Nine-Month You've-Been-Out-Longer-Than-In Birthday, Nora May.

xoxo, mommy

Apr 9, 2015

When I Want To Be (Like) Someone Else

There is a writer/photographer who I really admire. Her words are like the soft brushstrokes of a masterpiece, creating a painting I immediately want to hang on my wall. And each of her photos tells a story, evoking so much emotion in just a single image. She is such a creative soul, not just with her words and camera but in all areas of her life. She lives with such ferocious love and abandon, I admire her perspective and spirit.

I admire her, and I am little jealous, because I want that. (Let me be clear that I don’t want her to not have it – those double negatives, sorry English teachers – she can have it, but I want it too.) I want creativity to spill out of every pore. I want to view the world and life and parenthood with the awe and beauty it deserves. It’s not that I feel like because she has that, she does that, that I can’t don’t and can’t. I know that’s not how life works. I know that’s not how gifts are passed out. There are enough gifts for everyone. Her gift of telling a story doesn’t mean there is less of that gift for me. There are endless gifts to go around. I admire her and I applaud her. But, I wish that I could tap into my gifts the way that she does. I wish that my personality was more of the rainbow-believing-view-the-world-with-rose-colored-perspective-and-freshness that hers is.

There are days that she inspires me. That all of the writers who I devour inspire me. But then there are also the days that I use their amazingness against myself. I compare my gifts to their gifts and because they have gifts that I want, I feel lacking next to them. Their eloquence and beautiful spirits outshine my own. And I beat myself up and I compare and of course I can’t compare because I’m not them but then I feel like I want to be (like) them.

The thing is, it’s not just her gifts I appreciate. I also really marvel at her personality and perspective. I want to see the world like she does. I want to have open eyes and an open heart and live with so much joy that some people find it exhausting. I want to be silly and crazy and laugh. I want to be creative and adorable and light.

Light. Yes, that’s the perfect word. She is light. She is airy and light and seems to carry no heaviness with her. And she is Light. She’s a person who is an almost constant source of light for those around her. No darkness can linger near her for long. She is light and she is Light. And I want that. I want to be that person. I want to be the sunshine when there is none to find. I want to see the happy and BE the happy.

How do I change that? I’m not saying I’m an unhappy person (I just had déjà vu, have I written about this before?), but I’m not sunshine. I don’t often see the world in color, I see it in grays. I don’t make joy wherever I go, I just, go. The best I can say is that I plod along, sometimes smiling, sometimes not, but I certainly don’t emit anything resembling joy and light into the great wide world. How do I take the weight off my shoulders? The weight I’ve managed to put on myself, but it’s been there for so long I have no clue how to get out from under it? How do I stay real to who I am and what I’m experiencing, but change what I experience to something other than foggy sometimes depression filled mediocrity?

(And of course I feel like qualifying that to say that I don’t always feel like I’m plodding. I occasionally skip. And it’s not that I think my life is mediocre. Quite the contrary actually. My life is wonderful and there is beauty everywhere, it’s just that I seem unable to see the joy as often as I’d like. I see it, but not a lot. And I want to be seeing the joy and beauty more. I want to be FEELING that joy and beauty more. I want the moments to be mostly sunshine with minor amounts of gray. Right now I feel like it’s the opposite. And I’m not sure how to change that.)

Perhaps it is less about personality and more about perspective? Or is perspective a part of personality? I don't know. All I know is there are definitely things about myself that I don't want to change, that I like and am proud of, but then, there are some things that I do want to change. A lot.

How do I do that? How do I see the good over the bad? How do I change myself from a realist (the glass is neither half-full or half-empty, it just is) to an optimist (the glass if half-full, and it is full of a delicious and tasty drink and we will make a party out of it, gosh darn it!)? How do I appreciate what I have and what I am living? And how do I portray that appreciation and joy into the life I am living?

I have no idea. (Yet.)

xoxo, christine