Sunday, December 28, 2014

Just a Few More Minutes

Your head once fit perfectly under my chin.

Your tiny body curled so tightly around my stomach.

Your hands would knead my arm as if trying to bring blood to the surface.

Your eyelids would flutter softly down.

Your tiny breaths smelled of sugar.

You squeaked like a little mouse.

I would pull you in so tightly and stare at the moon from the two story room of your freshly painted nursery. I would beg for time to pause, to slow this moment down. It was 3ish am. I was tired. I was begging for sleep, but in that moment it seemed to be just the two of us awake in the universe. We were connected in a way I never felt connected to another human, connected in a way that is unbreakable, breath robbing like pain and utter joy meeting at the exact same time.

Your head now towers over my shoulder.

Your toes stretch down to my knees.

Your hands fall roughly around my neck.

Your eyes fight sleep begging for more time.

Your breath smells of macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets.

You tell me to sing "Twinkle, twinkle."

And I do for the fifth time as you fade away.

You are almost 3 and here I sit rocking you staring at the exact same moon in a different nursery begging to slow this moment down, begging for a few more moments.

Monday, December 15, 2014

One Day

One day you will feel defeated. You will feel as though someone deflated the balloon you've been floating in for years. You will feel like beat up concrete with a pot hole and you may even pop a few tires just to make yourself feel better. You'll feel this way one day, I promise.

And when you do, think about matchbox cars on a Friday night. Think about your dad and I sitting on the tired carpet in our living room night racing matchbox cars through the tiny dining room.

"Again!" you scream.

We gather all the mismatched cars and we race again. Your dad reassures you even when your car barely moves 3 inches.

"Good job," he says. "You're doing great."

Think about matchbox cars on a Friday night. Think about ducks and the way your face used to light up every time you saw them. Go see the ducks. Think about your cousins and the undivided attention they gave you.

"Chase me!" you would scream. And they would chase you through the house giggling and screaming even when their legs were tired and their eyes were sleepy.

Think about ice cream on a hot summer day and hot chocolate on a snow covered night. Think about the basic simplicities that used to fulfill your happiness because that is all you really needed...your family. That is all you really ever needed.

And then stand up...brush the dust off your shoulder, wake up and own the next day. That's the beauty...the sun will always rise and you will always have a choice.

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Cheapest and Most Profitable Craft You'll Ever Do With Your Kids

My company sponsors a family every year at Christmas. It's just one of the many things I love about going to work. First on the list this year, the most basic life necessity: Toilet Paper. 

Here is a craft to inspire kids to give back.

Step One: Collect or purchase 3 Ball Jars-I'm guessing they are already in your cabinet.
Step Two: Create Tags with craft paper, chalkboard paint, cardboard, sticker paper, whatever you have on hand. Write Give, Save, Spend with white paint pen. 
Step Three: Attach tags to jar with hot glue gun.
Step Four: Share the life lesson...give a penny, save a penny, spend a penny. 

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Sand Monster and the Coffee Cup

We're sitting by the ocean. The air is crisp. Not too hot, not too cold. You are chasing birds and moving at rapid toddler speeds. You always move at this speed. We turn disposable coffee cups into sandcastle builders.

"Play with me!" you scream.

We oblige. How could we not? We build towers. You knock them down every single time. We call you the sand monster as you are starting to identify the good guys from the bad guys.

"Rarrrr! I'm the sand monster. I will eat you," you say with delight. You're the cutest little sand monster I ever laid eyes on. We continue these games until your eyelids look droopy and you are covered in sand. Heck, we're all covered in sand thanks to the sand monster.

This is it. This is the place I go in my mind on a day I've identified as stressful. This is it. This is the place I escape on a Monday morning over hot coffee cuddled up in my office.

This is it. My favorite family moment...my sand monster memory.  

Monday, November 24, 2014

You're Starting Not to Need Me

You're starting to not need me like you once did. You still NEED me, but in a different way. You're wiping my kisses, pushing away my hugs, covering my mouth when I sing, shoving my hand away when you walk down the stairs. 

You're starting not to need me.

And that's ok. This is how it's supposed to be: you growing independent from me while I cry in a corner. This is how it's supposed to be: you becoming you.

My sweet boy, I want you to know, no matter who you become, no matter where you land, I am always here when you're feeling like you need me. 

No matter what it is, I won't judge you. I'll listen. 

No matter how big the problem in your head, I will be present to hear you with an open mind.

No matter who you become, I'll be here when you need me and when you don't.  

You're starting not to need me and that's ok.
































Tuesday, November 11, 2014

This One is For The Dads


This one is for the dads who show up.

They are everywhere: on your soccer fields, at your PTA meetings, Dr’s offices, in aisle 9 at the grocery store. They show up to wash, cuddle, bandaid, clothe, love and hug their children…to teach them they matter.

This one is for the dads who show up for the moments spent screaming on the floor due to the inability to find the right words. They show up, they calmly comfort, they scoop up, they hug, they soothe.

They wake up at 1 and 3 and 5 and 7 and they still find the energy, the strength to smile the next day.

They roll on the floor, climb the playgrounds, beat the drums, stomp in the mud, turn on a washing machine, fix a broken pipe, diaper a newborn and repair the heating unit in the dead of winter.

They are super heros, full time employees, extraordinary husbands and friends. 

This one is for the dads because all too often moms get all the credit mainly because we're stuck in the 60s when moms deserved all the credit. 

This one is for the dads...especially you, honey. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Kids Say the Darndest Things

I've been writing down your funny statements lately.

"Mama, I just need some time to be sad. No singing, no tickling. I just want to be sad for a little bit."

"Whachya got there? Is it tasty?"

"Sharks are bad. They bite people and it makes them cry. I don't wanna be a shark, Mama." (said 3 days prior to Halloween after costume was purchased)

"I'm POOPY! I'm POOPY! I'm POOPY!" (shouted loudly in a public restaurant while people were eating)

"I do not like singing with you. I like to sing alone."

"Who is that scary man over there?" (he was standing 2 feet ahead of us)

"I DO NOT WANT TO GET IN THAT CAR WITH YOU. I DO NOT!" (said just prior to slamming a sippy cup into my left ear. I couldn't hear for 2 hours)

"Daddy carried me in his belly. Not you." 

"Mama, I just love your face so much. SO MUCH!"


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Office Makeover

We have a dog. He looks like a white seal. He is the sweetest, laziest, most awesome dog you'll ever meet. His name is Myles...like the jazz musician.


Myles recently started peeing inside. It quickly became clear that carpet and and old dog do not mix. 

We decided to gut the only remaining carpeted room: the office/sunroom. Total project was $150 mainly for supplies. We got the cabinets for free and painted them gray to match bookshelves in our living room.  And when I say we, I really mean HE. This project was 100% my husband (minus the peeing dog who inspired it).

Here are a few before pictures:
And the renovation begins:


We chose a dark chocolate brown paint for the floor.
Here is the custom stained top:


 These pieces were free. With a new paint job and a quick spray of the hardware, they look great.
What a great place to work, pay bills, watch the seasons change and let guests stay (when we run out of room upstairs).  





  

Saturday, October 11, 2014

May You

May you find joy in the simplicity of loud music filling a quiet house on a crisp fall day.

May you always beg for just one more dance before bedtime.

May you express your feelings in the moment just as you do now (especially in the middle of Target or any public place).

May you wake up without an agenda and allow the day to be your guide just as we have done today.

May adventure fill your soul.

May you smile. Just smile. See what happens next.

May you witness all seasons and find a way to appreciate them, not complain.

May you never experience cancer...the real kind or the mental kind.

May you know what it feels like to turn the pages of a book.

May  you realize that it's not what happens to you, it's the way you react that will steer the passage of your life.

May you find passion and pursue it without doubt.

May you always have a dog.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Sometimes...

Sometimes I look at you and I wonder where they went...all the days between then and now that brought you to here...this day.

Sometimes I look at you and I wonder if they will all be this fast. The days, the minutes, the years.

Sometimes I want to skip sleep to give us double the time together even if it means I won't be able to function the next day.

Wait, that last one was a blatant lie. I only function with adequate sleep.

Sometimes I wonder who you will be and the thought of me not being here to see who you become literally robs me of breath. I can understand why moms because hypochondriacs.

Sometimes I wonder how another woman could possibly love you the way I love you and I understand why women sometimes hate their mother-in-laws...because they just don't get it until they become moms.

Sometimes I feel like an absolute FREAK of nature for feeling all of these things. I feel like an over-parent, helicopter, obsessive, can't live without you, you're always in my mind parent. Sometimes I feel like a complete freak.

And that's why it's so beautiful. I have always admired the freaks.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

For Your Grandma-On Her Birthday

Today...a few decades ago, your Grandmother arrived. I imagine she let out a significantly loud scream just as you did. Her Dad, your Great Pap probably pulled her in his arms as his entire universe suddenly made sense. I'm sorry you never got to meet him. They will never make another like him, your Great Pap.

I'm sure your Great Grandma, a Teacher, held her in her arms and said a little prayer, just as she does daily for strangers, friends and family. She's a saint, your Great Grandma.

And here she was, born Becky Ann Boyd. Her future was so bright mainly because the two people staring at her loved her and told her they loved her every single day. Kind of like we do for you.

Your Grandma arrived today many years ago...and who knew her legacy would include you? Who knew? I can't help but imagine the way she felt on this day in all the years to come leading up to this day. I can't help but think the years flew by like we all know they do. Years spent gathered around different tables surrounded by people who adore her.

What a legacy she has created with the most gentle, kind, non-judgemental hands. A journalist turned children's librarian with a side dish of counseling friends along the way, her profession impacted young lives, but it's her heart that reaches so many.

Her heart.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

I Hope I'm There

I hope I am present shortly after the birth of your first child.

Physically.

Emotionally.

Spiritually.

I hope I'm there to watch you hold him or her for that very first time as your entire life flashes before your eyes and for the first time you get it...what it feels like to lay your life down for another, how it feels to understand what really matters.

I hope I'm there. Whatever plane, train, cab, bike or UFO needs to get me there. I hope I'm there.

I hope God gives me 30+ more years of health to be present for you in this phase of life. I hope I'm there to watch you when he is she is 2 (just like you). I hope I'm there to peak in at you when you rock him.

I hope you're the kind of Dad who rocks him.

I hope I'm there.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Things Only You Can Teach Him

It hit me yesterday as you were standing in the backyard with your hands on your hips making a mental to do list. Just inches behind you, he stood like a tiny replica of you...hands on his hips staring at the backyard ready to move the minute you moved. There he stood imitating your every move. While you used a heavy metal shovel, he used a tiny plastic shovel. When you stomped on massive chunks of soil, he stomped on tiny chunks of soil.

There he stood...3 feet tall looking up at you, two times his size.

There are things only you will be able to teach him.

I'm not talking about the hard stuff...like how to fix down spouts, a car or a broken toilet. You will teach him those things too, but you will show him how to treat people. You will show him how to help a neighbor in need or a homeless man who hasn't eaten in days. You will teach him how to see outside of himself. You will show him the value of family and the definition of hard work. You will teach him not to take life too seriously, but how to act serious in serious moments. You will show him how to remain calm in un-calm moments. You will pass on your love for books and learning...always learning. You will teach him how to say "thank you", "I love you" and "I appreciate you" to his future wife.

You will teach him these things not because you read a book on how to be a good father, but because you try every single day to be a good father. And you succeed. You will teach him these things because you put the phone down and pick him up and hug him and tickle him and tell him you love him. You will teach him these things because you read to him and rock him and tell him you love him every single day.

There are things only you will be able to teach him.  

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Pure Joy

As summer fades to Fall..."It's time for night time," I tell you.

"Rock me," you plead.

And I do...longer than I should. I rock you and hold you tight...tighter than I should. Surely there is a point where the squeezing knocks the wind right out of you. You seem content. And so am I. You take your paci out. Yep, you still use your paci at night.

"I love you so much," you say.

Finally I carry you over to your crib. Yes, you're still in your crib. It's an old house with steep stairs. We sleep better with you still in your crib. It feels safer.

"Rub my back," you say (in a bit of a bossy tone).

I do. I rub your back and tell you I love you. I tell you that we will take an adventure tomorrow.

"Venture," you scream.

Everything has become "an adventure" from a short walk to a trip to Target. You love your "venutres!"

And you have entered the "what's that?" phase.

The months have flown by like one of those little flip books with cartoons. You're turning 2.5 in a few weeks. The milestone of you turning one literally feels like it just happened. And now you're 2.5. And soon you will be 3 and 4 and 5.

Your pure joy for life is contagious. Your curiosity has made me more curious. Your smile ignites my happiness every single day.

Monday, August 25, 2014

5 Ways to Save $8,400.

Please note, I am not a financial guru. I've made my fair share of mistakes (especially in the form of restaurant expenditure), but we've learned a few things from some really smart people.

5 Ways to Save $8,400:

1. Cable. Have you cut it yet? If not, it's time. Aren't you tired of renegotiating your contract? We've been cable free for 5 years now. We pay $46/month for internet, hulu and netfix.
Savings: $1,080 a year.

2. Only buy necessities. A few weeks ago we watched the documentary "Tiny". It was weird, but the concept of simplifying and buying necessities ONLY WHEN ON SALE is admirable. Necessity list example:
  • Paper towels
  • Toilet paper
  • Dishwasher gel packs
  • Laundry detergent
  • Toothpaste 
  • Soap
Savings: $844 a year according to our most recent CVS receipt.

3. 401K. If you have it, use it. If you don't, open an IRA. The dollar you put in today is worth more than the dollar you invest tomorrow. This is pre-tax money. You save on the front end and you make on the back end. 
Savings: If you get aggressive, you can save $4,500 + a return of $1,260 on money put in this year.

4. Hair & Nails. I get my hair done quarterly now. (I know, it shows). Nails...I've gone natural on the nails and get pedicures in summer only. I miss this...a lot. 
Savings: $480. 

5. Starbucks. Just one latte a week adds up.
Savings: $260

Total savings: $8,424




Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Day You Were Born


The day you arrived, I felt complete and utter all encompassing joy quickly followed by devastating fear as they laid you on my chest and told me they had to take you to the NICU. Only a mother in this moment can explain this feeling of a helplessness, confusion and concern regarding a life she had protected for 10 long months and can no longer can protect. Only a father can identify with the conflicting feeling of wanting to care for the love of his life and needing to care for this brand new life. Only a parent can understand.

This is me giving you a pep talk just before they took you. It's all I could think to do.
On your first birthday we were fighting a bit of a bug, an ounce of drama and bad weather as snowflakes fell from the sky threatening cancellation of your birthday party. We fought the bug, moved on from the drama and celebrated surrounded by your family and dear friends.
On your second birthday we were in a Knoxville hotel. Eight people cozied up on one king sized bed to watch you open presents and make you feel special. It was complete bliss, gratitude and giggles as you were so excited to proclaim:

"I'M TWO," over and over and over again to your cousins.  
Today we picked out "big boy pants" as you are nearly ready to ditch the diapers (and so are we). You chose cars, but they didn't have your size so we settled on Super Man. You threw your Super Man undies probably 20 times before we finally made it to the cashier. 

"Super Man!" you screamed as you chucked undies in the frozen veggie aisle. I laughed because I am "that mom" who thinks everything her child does is slightly entertaining (unless it involves hitting, biting, crying or screaming).

You are becoming a little man. And I'm pretty excited about it.

Your first days on earth were hard. You were poked, prodded, picked at, tested, hooked to machines, tested again. And you survived. Not only did you survive, you thrived. Your first birthday was hard. Unexpected things happened and we still found a way to celebrate. Hard days happen, but if you keep an overarching belief in happiness, you may just find yourself...

happy.

Be kind. humble. grateful. happy.




Wednesday, July 16, 2014

One of Those Night

We had a night...

A long stroll navigating through too cool for July summer air where we met five baby ducks and a Great Blue Herron who seemed to be our guide.

A redbox.

A trip to CVS where you attempted to pull almost everything you saw off the shelves.

An early evening spent in the back yard digging and planting and watering our garden as a family. Dinner created from whatever we had in the kitchen. A wonderful bath where we made up songs and talked about our day.

You told me you were put in timeout for hitting Natalie. I praised your honestly and talked about the word "sorry" and forgiveness.

I don't know how half of this stuff comes to me...oh, yes I do. It comes straight from my mother and our daily chats. The important lesson of Time Out is forgiveness from both sides she tells me.

Forgiveness. Isn't that a lesson we are all still learning?

One of those nights I'll hold close and attempt to repeat knowing it may never be quite as good as this night.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Eve of the 4th

Holidays. That's when it hits me the hardest.

Holidays as I watch you sprint in the backyard. The same backyard that used to swallow your tiny body. You now own that backyard. That backyard belongs to your 32 pound rock solid still somewhat tiny body.

Holidays. That's when I know another year has passed. I can picture your tiny one-year-old self barely walking, not yet talking. And here you are two...TWO. Here you are chasing Johnny and actually catching him. Here you are still pointing at planes, but now telling me their color. Here you are reaching up for me occasionally saying "I hold you, mommy. I hold you." Here you are...pushing trucks, catching bugs, digging in dirt and looking at me and offering an unsolicited: "I love you."

Holidays. That's when I know another year has passed. That's when I know time is as precious as I always believed it to be, but this time...this time with you is that kind of precious multiplied.

Happy 4th of July, my sweet curious, inquisitive, loving tiny little two-year-old. May we celebrate many many many more to come. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

What's on the Outside Can Be Important Too

Three or so weeks ago we began our newest old home adventure...tackling the outside including the following projects:

  • Repaint the house
  • Add backyard patio
  • Add bench and railings to current backyard porch
  • Reseed backyard for grass and level out yard
  • Kill crazy weeds attacking backyard
  • Add raised beds
  • Add arbor on fence
  • Cut tree in front yard down :(
  • Not lose our minds
  • Not go broke
Smart husband came up with the brilliant idea of repurposing the cracked concrete in our garage into the backyard patio which saved us thousands. 


Here are some before/after pictures:

And here are the during/afters...