Wednesday, December 21, 2016

We Can Do Hard Things

Recently, my daughter was having a hard time doing something. The something is beyond my recollection. My mom stepped in to see if she needed help. My strong, stubborn daughter proudly explained to my mom; “Grammy, I can do hard things!”

Photo by Heart Shot Photo
I often tell my kids that we can do hard things. Usually it’s in regard to putting on our own shoes or opening a particularly tricky container with a cap. I remind them its okay to get frustrated but not to give up.

My daughter is two. My son a mere fourteen months. As it stands today, I don’t know what their dreams are. Well, outside of finding the one thing in an entire room they shouldn’t get into and destroying it. But, I do know that beyond their intellect, education and drive their ability to persevere when things get tough will help them accomplish their dreams.

We can do hard things.

The thing is, this isn’t advice. It’s a mantra.

It’s what we have to tell ourselves when we’re frustrated in the middle of the night when the baby is crying and we don’t know what to do.

It’s what we repeat when making important life decisions – career choices, daycare solutions and navigating relationship dynamics.

The words enter our heads on mile seven of a long run and hour seven of a long day.

It’s what we say when we can’t get our shoes on and when we can’t find our footing.

It’s the repetition and realization that we can step-up when things get hard that will hopefully resonate. I hope by repeating it to my children while they are young, they will ultimately be reminded of these simple words as they get older and the stakes get higher.

Cheers!

A version of this post previously appeared on St. Luke's Birth Care Center.
 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

How Do I Freeze Time?

It’s almost 2017. We have tiny computers in our pockets every day. A photo exists of my children on almost every day of their lives so far. We have cars that drive themselves and video chatting is the way to communicate with family near and far. So, why have we not figured out how to freeze time?!

It’s no secret that the past year has been a relatively hard one for our family. Weston has kept us on our toes and Starbucks in business. But, lately, I’ve looked around and found myself wondering (knock on wood, please); is this getting easier?


The other day as I was getting ready for work, I could hear the kids playing together. (I love that sound!) Pretty soon they were adorably walking into my bathroom holding hands and laughing. Of course, I quickly grabbed a picture. I barely finished snapping the photo when Nora announced; “Mom, Weston threw some things in the potty!” To which I quickly replied “WHAT?!” And she answered; “Don’t worry, I got 'em.”

Sure, enough, those cute hands were all wet!!

As crazy as it sounds, I wanted to freeze time. I wanted to freeze time in part so I could sufficiently wash little hands and objects that had landed and been fished out of the potty. But mainly I wanted to freeze time because their sweet innocence in playing and assisting each other melts my heart. I know these are the moments we are going to want back. Even the potty-water-soaked ones!

I'm doing my best. I’m savoring, laughing and smiling at every turn. But, can someone please figure out how to freeze time already?

Cheers!

A version of this post previously appeared at St. Luke's Birth Care Center.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Something Happened While in Our Jammies…

I love Thanksgiving! I think part of my love has to do with the guaranteed long weekend. I love that you get the holiday out of the way and still have three days off to enjoy! I loved it even more this year because my two year old was all in. She and her brother helped me make turkey centerpieces as well as place cards for everyone who attended our Thanksgiving dinner.



More than anything I love the sentiment of this holiday. Gratitude is important to me. It’s something I try hard to instill in my children. Since each of their births, I have thanked them every night for being mine. Surviving infertility to get to parenthood instills a certain amount of gratitude toward the experience. So, almost instinctively since becoming a mom I have whispered a thank you to my children each night. 

The thank yous started out sounding something like; “thank you for being my girl.” Today they have grown to sound more like “thank you for being so brave today” or “thank you for sleeping last night” or “thank you for going to the grocery store with me.”


We spent the Friday after Thanksgiving in our pajamas. We ate leftovers and decorated our house. We played in a home-made cardboard box tunnel and had a dance party in our living room under the lights of the Christmas tree. As we concluded a relaxing yet productive day, we all said good night. Then, something happened. My two year old kissed my one year old goodnight and said “thank you for such a fun day, buddy!” And, I cried!

Yup, she’s all in. No turkey centerpiece or fill-in-the-black Thanksgiving exercise could convince me of this more than those simple words. In that moment all the guilt from being a working mom, a mom who gets distracted, is short-tempered and strung a bit too tight, washed away. She’s picking up on something in our house, and it sure looks a little like love. I hope it’s the kind of love, gratitude and appreciation that is felt all year long.

Happy holidays, everyone!

A version of this post previously appeared on St. Luke's Birth Care Center.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Let's Love!

Leave it to my afternoon tea to be the beacon of light I’ve needed for the past twenty four hours.


I’m still absorbing, grieving and feeling. But, yesterday changed me. 

In the words of Mrs. Obama; “it has shaken me to my core in a way I could not have predicted.” I feel those words profoundly today. I could not have predicted the emotional reaction I have had to this election. 

What this has taught me more than anything else is that I need to listen more deeply to people who think differently than I.

A friend shared a graph yesterday showing the rise in things like student loan debt and healthcare. He made a comment that this is what lead to a Trump victory. It’s an interesting illustration. I absorbed the information and really thought about what people must be feeling. I can relate. I have student debt coming out my ears. My family's financial progress is certainly slowed due to this.

I'm trying to listen. To really understand what hope friends and family see in Mr. Trump. And, I believe my friend to be right. The pain Americans are feeling must cut deep to long for such aggressive change.

I also believe this election transcends policies.

I've heard, “this is not about 'how do we explain this to our children'?” I disagree with that statement. I was consumed by that thought yesterday. Feelings and thoughts are real even if they aren’t shared by all. If we’re listening to each other we can’t disregard the fact that many of us are feeling this way.

My children are too young to explain any of this to. Still, I can’t help but reflect on the message we sent to the next generation yesterday. I fear we told them, in the face of adversity, it’s OK to bully each other. To lash out. To cloak racism and misogyny in political incorrectness. We elected the type of man that I want my daughter to stay the hell away from. We embraced fear and hate. I believe that is scarier than any difference of opinion regarding policies.

I also believe we all have a role in this. Regardless of our vote. I, for one, did not listen enough before yesterday.

I heard Glennon Doyle Melton say recently we can do one of three things; we can get angry, we can go silent or we can create. I believe we need to create more love. And love often looks like listening. Like caring. Like seeing the human behind the opinions. 

We have more than wounds to heal. We have hearts to change. We have to find our way back to seeing each other as human beings. 

I was a hesitant supporter of Mrs. Clinton. But, I sent her an email yesterday. I don’t know if she’ll read it. I truly hope she does. I thought about her in the middle of the night when I couldn’t sleep. I didn’t think about the candidate. I thought about the flawed human. I thought about how strong she was while standing beside a bully calling her names. For that, and so much more, I wanted to hug her. Plain and simple.

Let's love, people! It's the best we can do.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/martinluth101472.html

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

My Biggest Struggle as a Mom

My house is a disaster as I sit here and type this. I don’t mean a little messy, I mean I see a banana caked to the floor right below my feet. In addition to the banana, there is a stack of bills that need some attention and work that I missed on Friday afternoon when I was unexpectedly called to daycare to pick up a little man with a fever. In short, there’s always something that needs my attention.

You know who cares about none of these things? Two little people. And this is my biggest struggle as a mom. How do I embrace all the clich├ęs – it goes by too fast, enjoy every moment, they’re only little once, the dishes can wait, etc. – while maintaining my status as a productive member of society?!

I’ve noticed my best, most enjoyable days as a mom are the days when I lower my expectations. I forget about the banana, bills and work, and surrender to the little people who care about none of that. We play at their whim and go on epic family adventures. But I wake up the next day, and all of those items continue to pile up.

What’s the right balance between getting things done and getting in quality time with our littles?

 

I’m asking because I don’t know. But, I’ve found that routine helps. That fitting in picking the house up after the kids go to bed helps. And, choosing a task a day spreads the workload. Ultimately, there’s no perfect solution but we keep getting better.

What’s your top struggle and how do you find time to get it all done?

A version of this post previously appeared on St. Luke's Birth Care Center

Sunday, October 30, 2016

What I Wish I Would Have Known

I remember walking into my house with our tiny bundle. I remember my familiar home feeling different. There was an eerie calm. Our daughter was napping while my sister ordered pizza to welcome us all to our new normal. The calm that seemed so out of place? It was the calm they talk about that occurs right before a storm.

The storm was the next few months of our lives as we slowly adjusted to a family of four rather than the family of three we had known for the seventeen months prior. Our daughter eventually awoke from her nap. I sat down to nurse the new baby and she immediately tried to pull him off my lap while simultaneously throwing a fit herself. My husband took her to the grocery store. I sat alone with the baby I barely knew wondering what in the world I had done.

I wish I would have cut myself some slack at that exact moment. I wish I would have enjoyed nursing my son, shut my eyes and taken a nap!

I wish I wouldn't have had my daughter come to the hospital to meet her brother. If you’re one of those families who has sweet photos of your children meeting… skip this next paragraph.

My “sweet” photo from the hospital includes an obvious swipe from my daughter in the direction of her new brother (while ironically wearing a shirt that read, "Best Day Ever!"). The truth is, my son deserved that time with just his parents. Heck, I deserved that time and so did my husband! I wish we would have realized it was okay to wait a few days to introduce chaos into our new normal and allowed ourselves quiet bonding with our son.


I wish I could have suppressed the guilt I felt for sending my daughter to daycare while I was on maternity leave. I wish I could have seen that routine was good for her, and that it's easier to get a baby to sleep without a screaming toddler around.

I wish I would have realized sooner that what I thought was a serious breach in trust between my daughter and I was nothing of the sort. I wish I could have seen the future through the clouds of sleep deprivation and toddler tantrums.

I wish I had known then that the baby boy I barely knew would grow into my daughter’s self-proclaimed “best buddy"!


I wish I would have known that it would take a few months, but eventually she would stop plugging his nose and start kissing his cheeks.

Ultimately, I wish I had known that sometime in the future I would awake to giggles coming from that sweet baby boy’s room. Those giggles would belong to siblings, and friends, and would be a sign of the forever bond that was forming. 

A version of this post previously appeared on Today Parents.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Why I Write

This little world where I come to write is growing. And, I’m happy and proud. And nervous. It’s hard to sit down and put my feelings into words about complicated things like life, parenthood and baked goods. Heck, sometimes it’s even hard to find the time. To add to the complexity, the world around us feels noisy right now.

So, I’ve been a little quiet lately as the noise has gotten to me. I've taken this time to sort through my thoughts about why I write. Some of the reasons are simple… It’s an outlet. I like words. I think words are important. I also think it’s important to do hard things. But, really, I kept coming back to a Sandra Bullock movie. Because, of course!

Remember Crash? There was a line in there that always stuck with me;
"I think we miss that touch so much, that we crash into each other, just so we can feel something."
I got a note from a reader recently. She’s expecting. Her and her husband had tried for years. They decided IVF was right for them. Then, about the time she was to start the whole process, she found out she was pregnant. She’s thrilled. Excited. And, nervous. She crashed into this little corner of the universe and learned she’s not alone. She found comfort in our sharing.

I cried.

I recently wrote about parenting after infertility. And, I heard from an old friend. She crashed into some words she needed to read;
"Unfortunately experience isn't something you can wrap-up with a bow. Instead I can gift them this... the dark moments will eventually give way to sunshine."
She thanked me for sharing, and I cried, again!

In short, I write to crash into all of you. To feel what we don’t stop and feel without intention. To be scared, happy, sad and nervous – together! We can do hard things – life, pregnancy, parenting, running, juggling – but it’s a little easier if we do them together.

Why I write... It's important to do hard things!
So, thanks for reading! Thanks for crashing into my little place in this big world. And thanks for sharing. Please come back. And bring coffee and scones!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Talking About Scones, Again!

To say the months leading up to welcoming our son were stressful is an understatement. My work was going through a merger which included a name-change and massive re-branding. As the marketing director, this meant long hours for months on end (for me and the little man in my belly). In addition to that, the daycare our daughter had attended since she was three months old made the decision to close. We were on a search for a new place to love our littles after starting at a new place that was proving to not be a good fit.

I’d wake up each day tired and sore. I’d drop my daughter off at school and leave with her in tears. I’d answer emails, that weren’t always pleasant, at all hours of the day, and head into work to deal with a team that wasn’t quite integrating. In between it all, I’d stop at our local co-op and treat myself to a scone.  I’d made friends with the workers there. They watched my belly grow and on the day my son was born asked, “When are you due?” To which I replied, “Hopefully today!”

This is all to say this scone obsession started long before my maternity leave. In the week after Weston was born, Andy went to grab a scone and surprise me with it. After entering our member number at the check-out, the lady working exclaimed, “Did your wife have her baby?!” I had been caught! I had to admit that our son was made primarily of raspberry cream scones.

As I slowly figured out the recipe that made our new family of four hum, I also figured out a recipe to make my own scones. I figured out how to put one little down for a nap without the other one completely losing it about the time I realized I needed more cream in the scone recipe. I figured out that we run best with structure as I added another tablespoon of sugar to the scones. I learned that my heart would indeed grow so big with this new addition that sometimes it felt it might explode as I finalized the glaze for my baked goods. And, as a result, I might have the only two year old who counts “scone” as one of her initial words.

So, please enjoy my tried and true recipe. It really is a labor of love!

Cheers!

Raspberry Cream Scones
(from someone who really doesn’t know her way around the kitchen)


Combine the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Then, mix the cream, egg and vanilla in a smaller bowl and place it in the fridge (Google why having very cold ingredients is important for scones). Next, cut the butter into small cubes and mix it in with the dry ingredients. I use something like this to mix it. Using your hands is not ideal as, again, you want your ingredients (especially the butter) to remain as cold as possible.

Next, mix in your "wet" ingredients. I typically fold them in with a spatula. Then, mix in about a cup of the fruit of your choice. The below finished product shows blueberries instead of raspberries. Finally, I brush on a little cream and sprinkle sugar and salt on top to ensure they are crispy on the outside and flaky on the inside.

PS - Other uses for scones include; toddler bribery, husband bribery and exhaustion relief... they really are a cure all!

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