Friday, June 2, 2017

Vacay Mom Thing

I’m writing via iPad and bluetooth keyboard. It's not entirely as efficient as typing on my MacBook but you know what? It’s cool. I like it. I haven’t busted out the old Bluetooth keyboard for a few reasons, but one was the simple fact that “our” iPad really became “The Kids’ iPad.” It has since been reclaimed. I’m not saying it will never land in sticky hands again. Oh, no. I’ve learned that in the murky woods of Parent Hood, nothing is impossible. But for now it’s mine again, and I cackle over it like Snow White’s crabby stepmother. Kindle e-books! YouTube videos on a bigger screen (yes, I do have the iPhone 7 Plus, shutty)! Adulthood! Possibilities!

You’re laughing but that’s just because you haven’t sold your soul to Apple yet. That’s okay. You’ll join the dark side soon enough. In fact, I find your lack of Apple disturbing, says the crowd of minions, crouched over their glowing orbs - I mean “iPhones.”

Whatever, man.

So guys. We’re going on vacation in a few weeks. We’ve taken almost no vacations before. There were the occasional weekend trips to the “city” a couple of hours away and one family sojourn to Branson, but this is The Big One. Barring any disasters, we’re road-tripping all the way up to Maine and The Big Apple. Niagara Falls and also Indiana (it’s an overnight stop, don’t ask questions).

No one will be in diapers and there will be no bottles. My youngest is approaching five years old. Dang. That happened fast, but also it didn’t.

I’m far more concerned with this one random oddity that my children all three seem to possess - but the boys in particular. And here it is. Motion sickness. I swear my kids vomit recreationally. I think we may have used an entire bottle of 409 on one drive to Texas when Micah was a toddler. Don’t talk to me about toxins. The toxins came straight outta my kid. You weren’t there. I'm stocking up on Dramamine Jr and the doctor has sanctioned the use of Benadryl if all else fails. Under-eye war paint is in place. Let's take this hill.

In the planning stages of this trip I have realized that I have That Mom Thing, wherein a trip is rarely exciting until it’s very close. I’m actually shocked that enthusiasm is starting to creep up on me a month out. There’s a ton to do in preparation for a trip - which is daunting, right, Moms? My husband has been excited since we started planning. And Full Vacation Brain overtakes him on that first morning that he wakes up without a mandatory alarm set. Notice I said “mandatory” alarm, because he will set an alarm. You’ll see. Rather, I will. *side-eyes Weird, Happy Vacation Man* Even though we haven’t taken many legitimate vacations, I’ve witnessed this phenomenon on a few short weekend road trips. I, on the other hand, feel that vacation begins with a good sleep-in.

But despite all of my crankiness - despite That Mom Thing, my brain is starting to buzz with visions of New York City and the east coast. I am so eager to experience this classic American city, but I’m also hoping I can safely navigate the crowds with my mini people in tow. I’ve tried to plan well, but I know I will only learn some things by experience.

Mini travel fan for the hotel room(s)? Check.
Overpriced crunchy sunscreen? Check.
Multiple-device USB charger for the car? Check.

I feel like that covers all of my bases.

Good night, y’all.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Reclaiming Mother's Day

I have a confession about Mother's Day.

Mother's Day always makes me feel awkward and kind of alone. Okay, that's not entirely true. Mother's Day is almost always great. Mother's *DAY* is full of cards from my kids and sweetness from my husband. I rarely have a bad Mother's Day anymore.

But there's this horrible process that I fight through almost every year. Maybe every year? I try not to dwell on it when it's over. The days leading up to Mother's Day are usually awful. Culminating in an eventual breakdown in front of my poor husband.

Here's the thing about me. If you've read my blog for long then you know that I've openly shared my story of depression. That seems emotional and deep-ish and vulnerable, right? The truth is, that kind of honesty - rather, the reaching of that kind of honesty, was tough. It wasn't immediately natural. So now that I've shared that raw and painful part of who I am, I deal with this nagging fear that any other "vulnerable" shares or stories that I might put out there will pile on to the existing narrative, painting me as a fragile human being -- someone who is emotional and broken.

And here's where that thing about me shows up. I'm actually not super emotional. I'm human and I have my moments, but my husband often tells me how... un-female? that I seem since I'm pretty logical and less led by emotions. I don't entirely buy into the whole "females are just so unbearably emotional" narrative but that's another subject. The exceptions to my control are things that appeal to my maternal instincts now that I have kids. Show me suffering and I am WRECKED. But yelling and stomping and losing my crapola? I really prefer to just get alone or have a conversation and sort stuff out. Yeah. Sorry. Just bear with me. I'm not bragging. You'll see.

Mother's Day lead-up screws with me like nothing else. I dread it for the entirety of pre-Mother's-Day May.

And I cannot stop it. My typical, logical, just-make-sure-the-house-is-clean-and-I'll-feel-better-about-things mentality runs away and waves at me from across some massive ocean placed right in the middle of LOL GOOD LUCK, USA.

There is no amount of logic or control that will save me. I don't think there's any amount of love that could save me from it either just yet.

My Mom was abusive.

I have to sit for a beat after I write that. Someone will get upset. Candi said the a-word. Yeah. I did. The mental games and the physical altercations, although less frequent than the mental jacking, were real. They happened to me.

I haven't seen my mom in something like three and a half years. My kids do not see her. I know what she has done to me and some of what she has done to others. I know the things that she has said and continues to say about myself and my siblings. The threats. The always-deniable threats and horrible things.

Mother's Day screws with me. What terrible lottery meant that I didn't deserve a mother who adored me? Why am I still so dang tender there after all of these years? I have so much. That's the internal dialogue that I live with. I should be okay. I should be fine by now. I should be over it.

This brings me to the only reason why I'm putting my fingers on the keyboard and talking today. Speaking the truth though my virtual voice shakes.

It feels like no one else feels this pain surrounding Mother's Day. And just to be clear - I had an awesome Mother's Day today. As usual, the day is great. But the lead-up was terrible.

I am not broken. I am not pathetic. I am not fragile. I remind myself of this all of the time. Pain is universal, although the catalyst for that pain varies so widely. Some scars stay tender.

I am not sad today. I am grateful. But I'm going to speak the truth. Sometimes mothers hurt us, too. Sometimes we aren't ever good enough. Sometimes you look back at a good season in your relationship with a toxic person and ask why things couldn't stay that way. And then you wonder if they were ever as good as they seemed. How could things turn ugly so fast over and over?

It's likely that there is no one or not many who know this particular pain in my Facebook feed or in whatever circle this post will find itself shared. It's possible. But I am writing it just in case.

If you find yourself feeling not-yourself before Mother's Day - a holiday that is so worth celebrating. A holiday that I hope my kids look forward to as I grow old. Celebration I strive to be worthy of every day. If that's you? You are so not by yourself. But it's getting a little bit better every year, I think. And that gives me hope. I hope it gives you hope, too.

And again.

I'm okay. I'm okay right now. I will probably be not okay the week before next Mother's Day. But I'm tired of no one talking about this and I don't know what else to do but to start.

And if anyone decides to show this to my mom, even though that's not the purpose of this blog - Mom? I will always love you. But you cannot be in my life right now and that will not change without a long period of stable behavior and some sincere apologies. I have no hate in my heart for you. I pray for your heart to truly change. I pray that it is possible. Even though you think I'm going to Hell and you think I'm less than nothing. I still pray for you.

And I'm okay. You hurt me over and over. You hurt my siblings - some of the people I love more than anything in the world. You still hurt me when I relive the damage. I feel certain that you won't get it. You will scoff and, once again, say that I am spiteful. But I'm living my life and gosh, Mom, it's so beautiful. You have no idea. My kids are so great. My husband gets better every year. You are missing so much, and as of right now, that can't change.

So here we are. I'm at Starbucks on Mother's Day because my husband, even with his poor injured back, is holding down the crazy fort so I can spend some time reflecting here as I sip my Americano.

I have so much gratitude in my heart right now.

To Paula - my friend and adopted-by-love mom, thanks for coming to see me and managing to show up for me without making it weird that you know Mother's Day kind of sucks for me. You're a true gem. I'm grateful for you.

Hubby, thanks for seeing through the awfulness that is Pre Mother's Day at our home. Thanks for reminding me that I'm not failing. I don't know how God picked someone so suited to hear my heart and really see me - this sassy, analytical, technical girl who is still kind of messed up.

Everyone who has read this, I hope that you can't relate. I hope you have no idea how this feels. I hope that gets to be your story. But if not, I hope you're okay, or at least almost okay. And if you're not even close, please know that at the very least, you are so not alone.

Dad, I love you and you are such an example of unconditional love. That's my favorite thing about you. You have never let pride be more important than love. That's what it's all about. That's it. That's parenthood and relationships in a nutshell. Thank you for modeling it. For being sorry when it's time to be sorry and protecting me to the best of your ability. I'm so grateful for you, you hilarious, corny man.

I could go on, but I can't name everyone fairly. There are too many beautiful people in my life who have made it worth the trek up and out of fear and depression. My siblings, in-laws, friends, church family - thanks for every time you listened.

I hope this story is helpful to someone. It's not a cry for pity. It's just that this is my story. And I'm going to tell the truth and let it set me free.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Monday Flowers, TV and Books

Look who suckered Mom into planting flowers today?

That is not what I went to Wal-Mart for. I was actually browsing for cilantro plants, also not what I went to Wal-Mart for, and the selection was sad and frail. Someone broke out the "Please, Mommy" and I left with more than the potting soil I planned to grab to re-pot AJ's sunflower seedlings from her first grade classroom.

Here we are planting Cosmos that we just hope aren't doomed. Why are we trying this again? What did I smoke today?

She looks awfully cute shoveling potting mix, doesn't she?

We tossed the remainder of our potting mix into a barren flower bed and scattered our leftover seeds there. 

Here are our re-homed sunflower seedlings just before I moved them to a sunnier spot. I hold out hope that I can stop killing things. We'll see.

The kids are outside while I remind them occasionally to stay out there and soak up the vitamin D. Guyyyys. Trust me, you need this. The hotter days are coming. Bask in this perfect seventy degrees. Bask. In. It.

I got randomly sucked into a reality TV series recently, which is really not like me. Dumb reality shows tend to make me roll my eyes, and even "good" ones tend to be too cheesy or staged for me to stay with for long. This weird series (okay, it was Marriage Boot Camp: Reality Stars if you must know) threw me hard into the re-realization of how. much. relational dysfunction is really in the world. Far from giving me a feeling of self-righteousness, it reminded me how easy it is to find yourself floundering in an ocean of immature and toxic characters and lifestyles if you aren't grounded in the presence of people who have good goals and healthy boundaries. And for many people, those toxic circles feel impossible to escape because once there you can't see how bad it really is or how far you need to remove yourself to escape it. Your vibe so attracts your tribe. And your tribe so matters.

In unrelated news, I picked up a new-to-me book last week - Black Like Me - all about a white journalist's immersion into black culture in 1959 through a process of darkening his skin via medication and stain. This specific perspective is rare if not unheard-of aside from his specific project. The process of having lived as both black and white (however impossible it would be for a person to fully experience life as a different race than their own - and I freely acknowledge that it is not in fact entirely possible) allowed John Howard Griffin to offer a voice that was obviously unique in his time within predominantly white circles. It was a revealing and candid look into racial inequalities in the south during the late 20th century. His accounts of patronizing tolerance painted as non-racism were so well-stated, and I would love to hear the perspectives of others who have read this book. There are a vast number of topics covered in this book that are so worthy of discussion. Book club, anyone?

Our sweet neighbor brought us a delicious-looking dinner and I'm off to enjoy it. Thanks for reading, friends. And happy Monday to you. <3

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Song, Water, and Vacuums

Listening to: Crazy Love by Michael Buble

Sometimes music is the best medicine. I'm a little sensitive in the auditory department, so I tend to forget about music until I have the opportunity to just sit and really listen. We recently(ish) procured a couple of Sonos hi-fi speakers and I just have to say - they are entirely worth the investment. This bitty white tower of remarkable projection and sound quality is life to me some days.

It was 80 degrees here today. I found myself sweating as I vacuumed out our Buick van. Vacuuming is a chore that I do not enjoy, and I have complained that none of the car washes here have free vacuums. It's not that I am unwilling to pay for the service, it's more about the fact that I *never* carry change. It's ironic to me that I can swipe my debit card to have my car washed but the vacuums never take cards. Who carries cash in 2017? The moms with clean vans, apparently.

Ooh, the Sonos has moved in to The Way You Look Tonight. Swoooooon. I want a glass of something delicious while I sit here listening now. But I digress. The kids decided that the eighty degree temps were warm enough for water play and in my recent efforts to say yes to their fun ideas more as well as cutting way down on screen time (says Mom as she types on the computer), I let them hook up the sprinkler under the trampoline. Their favorite. Water guns came out and they had a blast. I threw together some breakfast for dinner and let them eat on the porch.

I find myself transfixed in what I call I Hope You Remember moments. I gaze at my children wondering which of these moments will be woven into the fabric of their good childhood memories. It seems that every single person, no matter how difficult their childhood, has a safety net woven from the fibers of safe and happy moments. I consider my children to be experiencing a pretty happy childhood, and so I wonder - is this it? Will you remember this moment? Will it fade into the blur of your overarching impressions of your childhood, or will you have a snapshot of this precise moment? When you are grown and lying in bed, maybe somewhere on an adventure, will you long for the scene of skinny shirtless brothers licking popsicles and wielding water guns? Or the sight of your sister, wavy blonde hair dripping at the ends, frizzy curls around her face, running and yelling as she joins your fun and adamantly puts forth her suggestions for fun and games? I can't help but wonder. which of the yesses, however they barely managed to squeak out of my mouth, will make the memory cut? I know it's the fluffy dreamer girl inside me who longs to know, but it's a wonderful thing to think about.

Now Listening to: Josh Groban's To Where You Are

We have been teaching the kids Psalm 15 for 2.5 months. They learned Psalm 23 in January, but something about the following months caused our memory project to drag on this time. We're almost finished now, and it's precious to hear their sweet voices chime in as we practice it in the evening. Particularly Joe, who tends to pick up more than we realize.

GUYS. FOOLS RUSH IN JUST CAME ON. Andrea Bocelli & Katharine McPhee. My favorite version ever! As you may have noticed by the intermittent notations of song change, I'm not making it through this blog quickly. Pandora is just killin' it with my faves right now.

Well, it's cooling down outside and I need to dry off my passel of monkeys. Good night, guys!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Goodreads, Shows, and CS Lewis

The children who reside in my house and occasionally under my feet experienced a moment of intense grief this morning when their father and I announced that Youtube Kids was being removed from all of our devices for a time. The utter atrocity of life under this roof. Children who are forced to occasionally reevaluate the way they spend their time. It's like something from a Dicken's novel.

I've been working on some reading catch-up in The Life Giving Home by Sally Clarkson, which some of us are reading this year as a study at church. I just finished the March chapter and I'm moving into April (like I said - behind!), but I think the March chapter has been my favorite so far. I closed it inspired to expose my children to more artistic and natural experiences as much as is possible.

On the subject of books, I have recently discovered GoodReads and I can't believe I never used it before. It's social media for readers. SOCIAL MEDIA FOR READERS. I have found my people. Thank you, Life. You are not lame today. <3

I have decided recently that I think I need a bicycle. I used to love pedaling away down my street as a child, feeling like I was free and flying. Maybe it won't be as magical as an adult, but I'm up for the effort.

Due to a friend's recent recommendation I have been enjoying the delightful little series Lark Rise to Candleford. It's not new, but it was new to me, and thanks to Amazon Prime Video I have been zipping through it when I have a spare moment here or there or happen to be folding laundry or washing dishes. Does anyone else pull the iphone-propped-on-the-windowsill maneuver when they're alone on the kitchen cleaning up? This sweet trip back into the 1800s has been such a breath of fresh air. I'm experiencing the deep urge to hunt down a copy of The Story Girl - a favorite book from my childhood - and give it a read with fresh, grown-up eyes.

While reading CS Lewis a year or so ago, he mentioned the concept of chronological snobbery, and it stuck with me. The fallacy that newer is better. Younger is wiser - more informed. Life seems to continually remind me that the real challenges and desires in front of us now tend to mirror those faced by those who have gone before. The details may change, but the challenges tend remain the same generation after generation. Things like need, poverty, the need for forgiveness and grace, loneliness, a desire to feel purposeful and wanted. Such running themes throughout lives and generations and eras and the world over. It's fascinating.

Well, my honey is home and The Voice is on. Cheerio, friends. <3

Friday, April 7, 2017

Two Year Olds, Books, Plays, Marketing, and Hummus

My two year old nephew is here today and has been here for a couple of nights, which has been a crash course in the hilarity and irrationality of toddlers.

How is it that the sands of time move so quickly and quietly that we lose touch without having known that we've lost it? My sensory child has some quirks that make him seem younger than 4.5 to me, but he's certainly not two.

There's very little reasoning with a two year old. How did I forget my own two year olds? "You can help me on the am-poline," Jason insists. I'm a little busy so I delay. "Ask Joe to help you get on the trampoline, he's big!" The faltering yet bold reply, "Youuuuuu can ask you to help me on the am-poline."

Earlier an "accidental" snooze on the couch while they play results in yellow highlighter all over my desk. Where did he FIND that?! Oh wait. My house isn't baby-proof anymore - which means it's even less toddler-proof. I sigh to myself, glad it wasn't a black sharpie, as I pick up the shredded box of cards that's lying in the hallway. Less you misunderstand, he has been a hilarious little riot and we have enjoyed having him. And also my sister (his mom) will just laugh at this blog and tell me that I deserve it for the many times I corrected her when she said "to" and meant "too." At least, I'm giving her permission to laugh (are you reading this, Mandi?).

I recently finished Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and I won't give any spoilers, but it was definitely different than the books. It was difficult to determine where character deviations were meant to depict the softening that comes with age and parenthood and where they pointed to the other non-Rowling contributors to the script. Either way, I'm glad I read it, but the dialogue leans a bit further into the dramatic than the first seven works. At points it could even be cheesy, but these are observations from someone who has only read the play and not seen it onstage. Perhaps skilled actors and actresses could deliver the nuance more effectively than the audiobook reader managed to do.

After finishing the aforementioned play, I picked up Love Wins by Rob Bell and I've given up on it. It's just... weird? I selected it because it was available on Overdrive and I needed a new audiobook, but I probably should have red some reviews or at least a little about RB first.

I must say, I'd love it if Amazon's Whispersync technology could magically become available for ALL books. I'm reading so many books right now that I truly want to finish, but I tend to pick up a hardcopy and drift away from it, adopting a shiny new hardcopy and so on the cycle continues. I just can't manage to be immobile and focused long enough to read as many "real" books as I'd like. Audiobooks are my love. Ironically, I recently saw that a newish survey revealed that they are the least popular medium for literary consumption. I was shocked. How can others not share my wonder in the magic that is reading a book AND accomplishing other things? I do listen so much better when I'm completing some repetitive task like dishes or laundry, too, so there's that. Sit still while reading? How is this accomplished?

In random life developments, I picked up some hummus and enjoyed it for the first time ever. I have tried hummus two or three times and was less than enraptured. This variety comes from Costco and is roasted red pepper and tastes like a Mexican bean dip. We are loving it, and since it's organic, we pretend that portion control isn't necessary and there are no carbs. Adult logic, in other words.

Lastly, I've been slowly bolstering our movie collection. My husband might say it hasn't been THAT slow. But I managed a killer deal on a dvd of The Little Mermaid (which is in the vault at the moment) complete with digital copy code for under $10 on eBay. These are the kinds of victories that make you feel like a real winner when you're almost thirty and have kids in elementary school. My list of vault titles that we don't yet have is becoming shorter and shorter, and I can't wait for The Lion King to come back out in October. I also joined the Disney Movie Club when I saw their current offer, and that helped. (Full disclosure: the link is my referral link - free movies when friends sign up!)

Speaking of movies, can we discuss screen time? Specifically youtube? I feel like my kids would prefer Youtube Kids over any movies ever. EVER. I'm becoming really irked about this, while trying hard to maintain my chill as a parent who picks her battles. I just feel so marketed to, and feel that the kids are as well. It's one of those odd, not all THAT harmful, but annoying sort of things that just cause me to cringe without really being certain what to do about it. Even lame kid's tv shows seem to have a point, other than "here is this toy and all of these other toys, and you would love it and you need it." If your kids are into toy unboxings and similar things that are a part of this generation's youtube craze, how do you keep it all in balance?

And there you have it guys, my Friday afternoon stream of consciousness update from our corner of the world. How are you guys? <3

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Year of Try

Guys. It's January 2017. What happened?


We are all old people now. Wrinkles are immaterial to this fact. You are living in 2017. We are space-agey and we talk to our phones when no one is on the other line. We are mature. We are modern. We are legit just because we live here. It's 2017 and we walk around in it like bosses. Or something.

I still feel like the Y2K scare was yesterday. I still think I just got rid of those heavy, thick, masculine sandals we all wore so proudly. I loved those things.

In 2017 I'm going to turn thirty. 3-0.

This blog seems to be all about numbers. Ew. But anyway. I'm turning thirty this year. Like the sandals of yore (AKA the late nineties), I feel like this has passed sort of quickly and I'm not ready.

Mostly because I don't feel like I thought I would feel at thirty. It's... weird. I have found myself leaving things behind that I should have broken up with much sooner and I love that. But I've also started to realize that maturity and richness in life boils down to fewer things than we would have suspected. Like shutting up more often (help), showing up for others more quickly, protecting your margins; shutting down toxic relationships.

There's also a lot of calendar management. Have mercy.

I also feel like I'm roughly 30% less mature and 30% more sarcastic than probably all of my friends. Will you guys PLEASE help me adult because I am just flying by the seat of my pants here.

I decided this year that I was going to try harder at a few things that I had to set aside or do less in the past few years. Things that were important to me, but survival at mom life took precedence.

Being a mom is like... the weirdest job ever. It's not the only job that forces you to think on your feet and be flexible, but it's the only job I know that changes so drastically so frequently.

Years spent holding babies and rock-rock-roooocking for hours to quiet a miserable, colicky, sensitive child that you just can't seem to figure out slowly morph into days with no one in diapers anymore. And for me, that still feels weird. Good weird, but weird nonetheless.

As we've slowly edged forward with our sensory kid, occasionally sliding backwards, adjusting, taping up our skinned knees, dusting off and moving back into forward motion, life has started to become more normal. It happened so gradually that I didn't really know it was happening for a long time, but it did.

So this year as I remember who I am without a person attached to me quite so much, I'm rediscovering old passions and interests, and it actually didn't come easy. I remember sending up quite a few prayers last year that I would enjoy those old things again. Cooking, creating, reading... writing. I even used to enjoy my housework to a point. I found ways to make my routines soothing with music or audiobooks, feeling myself calm as my home came to order under my busy hands. I baked bread because I loved to; sautéed vegetables because they were delicious and pretty.

God answers prayers in odd and mysterious ways, and my husband insisted that we buy a new stove. The dishwasher needed to be replaced, and we would get a better deal on the purchase of two appliances. My oven took roughly 45 minutes to heat up, so I winced at the expenditure and side-eyed my stove and my husband in turn and eventually gave in. It wasn't an expensive stove (as appliances go), but it preheats in 5-6 minutes flat and I'm pretty sure that means it's a sacred and holy thing. HALLELUJAH. What a great way to charge back into my culinary interests. It's been so fun to play with!

So I'm calling it. 2017 is the year of trying just a little harder when I don't quite feel like it yet. I'm already seeing the rewards and I'm so thankful. I know there's a popular saying from Star Wars that basically asserts that "trying" is a cop-out. But that's wrong. Real effort is never a cop-out. Trying hard may fall short of full achievement, but you're always further ahead than you were had you never tried in the first place. So it's cool with me if you want to steal my word of the year, ignoring anyone who calls it a cop-out. It's the year to try - just try your actual best and then see what happens.

Happy new-ish year.