Saturday, July 28, 2012

Michigan, here we come

I have 2 hours to get out the door for my family reunion in Michigan and, for whatever reason, I'm not being the usual stress case that anyone who knows me would expect.  Somehow, I've already mentally checked out and am in full vacation mode.

I'm sitting here with a pile of broken crackers and crumbs at my feet, a screaming baby in the other room (because he desperately needs a nap, not because I'm neglecting his basic needs, thank you very much), and a tornado of clothes all over the bed.  And yet here I am, writing this blog entry.

I intend to make full use of this vacation, because I've learned in our past attempts that a vacation with small kids is really no vacation at all.  So this time I have to strategize a little.  I'll shoot for the stars instead of the moon and be totally satisfied with the little things that make me smile in the midst of the daily grind.

These goals may not sound like a big deal to the average person going on vacation, but to me, they are all I need to consider this getaway a total success...

I hereby declare, (and by posting it publicly, maybe I will strive that much harder to actually accomplish these things), to do the following on my vacation this week:

Read a book (or at least more than 40 pages of one)

Do yoga every morning

Put these on... to go for an actual run, not taking the garbage out

Use this at least once...

Instead of this...

Dare I say it??  Wear this to the beach one day...

Watch the sunrise... on my own terms, not because a kid woke me up

Enjoy a cup of coffee and some creative writing... and actually finish the cup of coffee before I get distracted by anything else

Can't wait for a week of grilling, relaxing and running around with the kiddos.  Michigan, here we come!

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Friday, July 20, 2012

Thoughts and Prayers

My faith has been shaken a lot in the past week.  I think about the massive tragedy that occurred this morning, which has affected so many all over the country-- leaving people feeling vulnerable in the most unsuspecting of places .. and then I think about the deaths and sickness and loss that are on a much smaller scale, but equally as tragic... And I just feel so helpless and heartbroken.

I was devastated to hear about the loss of a young woman from my high school, who passed away in childbirth earlier this week, leaving behind her husband, toddler son and 2 newborn twin girls.  The magnitude of this loss is inconceivable to me and to think of what her family is going through makes me physically hurt. 

The dynamic of all the different people affected by this is too difficult to wrap my head around-- the boy who is just old enough to understand that his mom his gone, but not able to understand why; the innocent girls who may one day feel responsible for what happened, and the husband who is picking up the pieces, trying to figure out how he will raise 3 babies on his own, while grieving over his lost love. 

It's too much to ask someone to get through, and yet they are going to have to do it.  They have no other choice.

All the while, this type of loss is constantly happening to someone, somewhere, at some time in this world.

I don't think I've ever taken what I have for granted; I am eternally grateful for my family and my heart bursts with love for them.  But I don't understand why some are luckier than others, and I'm afraid it doesn't really matter.  It almost seems like I'd somehow be cheating if I got through this life without something horrible happening to one of us. 

It sometimes seems like the odds are stacked against us, as the human race.  You're just not going to get off that easy or it wouldn't be life.  So how do you forge ahead, knowing the potential pain and darkness that awaits?

With every tragedy, of course, comes growth and love and support in massive quantities.  And I do believe that good always comes from it.  But life is still forever changed in many instances, and it doesn't seem right that, even in 10 or 15 years, the mother who lost her son in a terrible accident will never be able to wake up and make herself a cup of coffee without thinking about her loss.

I am amazed by people's strength and courage and ability to take on the unbelievable challenges that life throws at them, and just so inspired by the incredible ways that friends and loved ones come to the forefront to help weather the storm.  I guess this is what life is all about.

My thoughts and prayers are with a lot of people today and always.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Baby Steps

Niall has always been pretty cautious. While the other parents are racing to the edge of the pier/pool/beach to make sure their kid doesn't jump in, I can be confident that Niall will only hover near the edge at a reasonable distance to peek over.

When he was a baby, he loved those "mommy and me" swim classes, but ever since he turned 1, it's been a constant battle getting him back in the water.

Niall at 7 months

But things are starting to change around here. We went out to this lake in Virginia this past weekend to waterski and found out that Niall is no longer a teeter-near-the-edge kind of kid.

At first, he took his time. He shyly touched his toes in the ripples...

Then, took a few steps in on the ramp.

And then it was full force fearless kid in the water. Throwing rocks, dunking his head and even jumping to me when I wasn't looking or was busy holding Brendan. Which resulted in me heaving a baby up on my hip on one side and fishing for a submerged kid with my other free hand.

There's something really scary, for me, about letting a toddler--my own toddler-- dunk fully under the water.  No matter how many times I tell Niall to hold his breath or blow bubbles, I know he's just going to swallow a boatload of water.  So part of me is too afraid to let him do the whole head under water thing and learn on his own, even though I know he has to.  Can't we just doggy paddle with my hand supporting his stomach for a while?

But surprisingly, when I scooped him up this time... no tears, no choking, no gasping for breath. Just a quick wipe of the eyes and back to business. 

Even Brendan enjoyed his day on the pier.

And his time in the spotlight, as always...

I even faced my own fears, jumping off the top of the boat house, that I've been saying I'm going to do for 2 years now.  My last excuse was that I was pregnant.  This time, it was that a storm was passing through.  But finally the skies opened up and it was time.

After watching an 8 year old fearlessly plunge ahead of me about 10 times in a row, I finally did it.  I counted to 3 maybe a dozen times, contemplated if I should run or stand on the edge/ close my eyes or open them/ look down or straight ahead... and suddenly, I just did it.  It took the breath right out of my chest, but it was so fun.  And I'll definitely do it again... next time... maybe.

I'd say we all had a pretty successful day.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Life is Good

It's a good feeling to be (somewhat) on top of everything; that wave of relief as the to-do list dwindles down, knowing that the car is not going to spontaneously explode because it is FINALLY fixed, getting that one extra hour of shut-eye each night.  I am happy to say that I have experienced all of these wonderful feelings because things have really been going our way lately.

...which probably means there's nowhere to go but down from here, but I will bask in blissful ignorance for now :)

First, I have to commend the boys for getting along so well.  Brendan laughs at anything Niall does and Niall gets just as much enjoyment from feeling like such an entertainer.  I can actually put Brendan on the family room floor and slip into the kitchen to do some dishes, knowing that the boys are having fun together (98% of the time). 

Niall was even feeling extra generous and gave Brendan a taste of that coveted gold medal he earned last week.

Then, this little guy let me sleep for 7 1/2 solid hours.  8:30-6! (Of course, I didn't take full advantage of the potential 9 1/2 hours because I had to stay up looking at fabric toy bins on the internet.)

He also got hugs and cuddles from total cougar babe on 4th of July:

But enough about Brendan.  I have been making out pretty well myself.  I got to make a long overdue pit stop last week while I was running some errands...  a very important, very necessary pit stop.

The good vibes continued this past weekend, when Matt took Niall to the bay for a boys' weekend, so it was just me and baby B.  Which meant totally quiet house to myself by around 8pm.  What does a girl do with the first quiet evening to herself since before she can remember?

I'll tell you.  Here's the recipe for the perfect night of me-time:

Step 1:
Order a pizza AND cheesy bread, which may or may not be the same thing as eating 2 pizzas.

Step 2:
Eat cookies

Step 3:
Pour yourself a glass of wine

Step 4:
Grab the basket of clean laundry you've been meaning to fold, bring it to the couch, and then sit down with your glass of wine, turn on some trash TV and ignore the basket of laundry.

Finally, the perfect weekend was topped of with a Colplay concert-- Matt's and my first date in 6 months.

Can you tell?  I had to stop a group of high school girls to ask them to take a picture of us.  Gotta document these rare occurrences.

They were so amazing live, and I caught Niall's favorite song ever ("Paradise") on video, which he has re-named "The Elephant Song" because all of the members of the group are dressed as elephants in the music video. 

But sorry, I just realized that it's illegal for me to post the footage-- and I'm no pirate ;)

The next day, my interior designer mother-in-law helped me rearrange my entire house so that we could make our guest room work as an office, as well.  I am so excited, but I'm not posting pix until the entire project is finished.  There is a basement play room in the works, too. 

So there's a whole lotta good going on around here right now, and while I'm sure I just jinxed it, I can't help but be happy.  Life is good with these goofballs!


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Friday, July 6, 2012

Everybody Wins

There's nothing cuter than watching a bunch of 2 year olds "compete" in a field day. Nobody has a clue what's going on; just total chaos and running around in different directions and drinking each other's juice boxes.

Actually, they really look like they've got it together in this photo.  Good cover-up ;)
But there's still something fun and necessary about it. I mean, a 2 year old just hasn't lived until he stands on the edge of a hula hoop and throws a bean bag into it....

Or tried to race with an egg on a spoon. And by race, I mean all of the kids run away from each other holding the egg in one hand and the spoon in another. Although, Niall did get a kick out of it once he got the idea of what you're really supposed to do...

And while they don't have the attention span to tune in long enough to compute all of the rules and instructions, there is still a valuable lesson to be taught here:

No matter what happens, everybody is a winner!

No wait, that's not it. We're preparing them for the cruel, competitive world that lies ahead. Listen up kids, this is the one time in your lives that you're all going to get a medal. That was just the practice run. From now on, you gotta earn that baby. Medals don't grow on trees, you know.

But for now, I'm really glad that they do, because I've never seen such a proud and adorable bunch.

The reality of competitive sports can be taught some other time, when I'm ready to deal with the fact that my kids will have to face failure at many different points in their lives and I will have to be strong for them.

I will probably have to fight back some of my own tears the first time Niall comes to me empty-handed and heartbroken about that medal or trophy that went to someone else. But today, he is 2, that is truer than true (Dr. Seuss, anyone?)... and I'm so happy that everything is simple.

Today, we limbo and shoot rockets and smile because everybody wins :)

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