Quiet

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A friend participates in a weekly Five Minute Friday writing exercise- where you’re given one word and you have five minutes to write about it. No editing, no second glances- just write. And this friend- her words are powerful and raw. She’s so much more poetic then I am and I love reading her thoughts.

So today I’m taking a page from her book and writing on the word “quiet.”

The quiet scares me, it always has. I rush to fill the void, to make the silence loud. When I was younger, quiet people made me nervous. Those people who can sit in a room with people they don’t know very well and not make small talk intimidate me. So I over compensate and talk about the most inane things just so there is something out there.

When the kids were itty bitty the silence made me nervous- were they breathing? In trouble? I’d rush in and put my hand under their nose to feel their sweet breath whoosh quietly in and out. And when they were toddlers? Well, silence meant trouble. Markers on the walls, kids climbing on the counters or eating something they shouldn’t have. Quiet made me start running faster than crashes and screams.

And now? Well, quiet is taking on a new feeling. Quiet means kids reading books for hours in their room. It means a peaceful daughter playing school in her room. It means exhaustion after a hard played game. It means enjoying different things- books, games, electronics- separately but together in a pile on the couch.

Before too awfully long quiet will mean the kids aren’t home any more- they are with friends or at college or on a trip. That quiet worries me too if I think too hard about it. So I don’t. Right now I just relish the quiet of 4 people content in their own space knowing that it won’t belong before someone is yelling, laughing or telling a story breaking that silence with the amazing noise that is family.

Running on Empty

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In order to go the gym first thing in the morning, I need at least 6 hours of sleep- preferably 7- to be a functioning, polite human being. It doesn’t seem like it would be hard to achieve, right? Last night I went to bed at 10 and set the alarm for 4:55 am. Ahhhh…6 hours and 55 minutes of glorious sleep. Heaven. I happily crawled into bed, spread out and was asleep within minutes.

Until 1:11 am.

Mom- I have a cold and I can’t fall back asleep. Can you come lay with me?

Poor Scorch- he has a nasty cold, so I dosed him up with meds and curled up in a ball at the foot of his bed using my robe as my blanket until he finally, finally fell asleep after waking me up at least 3 times to tell me he was still awake. Let me tell you how much I appreciated that. I finally was able to go to back to my bed at 2:15.

Alright, this isn’t too bad. I got 3 hours of sleep and now I can get 2 hours and 40 more minutes before the alarm is set to go off. Not 6 hours, but close enough that I can fake it for the day. Boom- I’m out again.

Until 3:01.

Mommy- I had a bad dream. Can you come sleep with me?

*sigh* Of course, Beaner is sleeping on Scorch’s floor, so I grab my trusty robe/blanket and head back into their shared room. I find a stray stuffed lion on the ground to use as my pillow and play dead, hoping like hell Bean will go back to sleep.

No dice- she wants the cat. So I get Maddie cat because, damn it, if I’m going to kept awake, so is my poor geriatric 14 year old cat. The three of us settle back on the floor while I pray we don’t wake Scorch back up. I spend the next 20 minutes trying to play dead, get the cat to stop licking my hair and willing the Bean to fall back asleep.  At 3:40, I’m back in my room.

I’m now down to 5 hours of sleep total for the night if no one bothers me until 4:55. I can do this. I’m determined to keep up my good work out routine.

Until 4:13.

Mom- I had the same dream again, you need to come back and sleep with me.

The good news is I was so tired when I went back to bed the last time that I just left my robe on, so I don’t even need to grab it. I do get my pillow though because a stuffed lion does not a comfy pillow make. Maddie cat evidently loves my pillow because she decides to sleep on it with me. Which makes the Bean cry because she wants the cat to sleep with her. Have you ever tried to make a 14 year old cat stay someplace she doesn’t want to in the wee hours of the morning while trying not to wake your sick son AND comforting your crying daughter? Try it, it’s fun.*

Everyone is FINALLY settled down and I get back to bed at 4:54 am. Hell. No. Just no. Screw the gym. I set the alarm for 6:40 and cry when it goes off. But, I dragged myself into the shower to start the day because I’m the freaking-fracking Mom and is that is what we DO. When it’s time to wake the kids for the day and they both whine about how tired they are, I resist the urge to pinch them.

But when the Hubs woke up and told me how well he slept,** I did murder him. He’ll be properly buried when the ground thaws. Say a prayer for his soul.

 

*This whole time they were awake/trying to fall asleep, I do admit to trying to memorize their perfect little faces. Hormones, PMS, who knows- all I know is that it seems like my kids are growing too big too fast and I know these annoying, horrible, exhausting nights are numbered and I’m going to miss their little selves so damn much.

**I tried to convince both children that they wanted their father to lay with them instead of me but they weren’t having it and I was too damn tired to fight.

Paging Miss. Hannigan

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I knew things were going too well- the kids adjusted back into school and the Hubs and I back into work without a fuss after the holidays. Which is odd. As great as the break was, none of us were that disappointed to get back to reality. Over break we some some great movies (the original Annie) and some OK movies (the latest Chipmunk movie)- both of which touched on the subject of being abandoned by biological parents, orphanages and adoption.

Friday night I had to work my second job. While I love both my jobs – this is my fun job where I get to tweet and talk to people on Facebook on behalf of a Fortune 15 company. I can do it from home and still cook dinner, put the kids to bed, or watch a movie with the Hubs 99% of the time. Of course, this past Friday was the 1% of the time where I had to train a new team member over the phone. I planned my night down to the minute so both kids were in bed 15 minutes before I had to get on the phone in the hopes that they’d have run out of excuses to get out of bed by the time the training starts.

I’ll give you a second to think about how well that went.

About 30 minutes after I put the kids to bed, the Bean came out of the bedroom, walked over to me and promptly burst into tears. I politely excused myself from my meeting, put myself on mute and asked the Bean what was going on.

You yelled at me yesterday, you yelled at me today and I know you’ll yell at me tomorrow*. So I know that means you’ll be taking me to the orphanage soon. Like maybe tomorrow. I don’t wannnnnntttt go go to the orphanage!

By this time, Scorch is trailing behind her laughing his butt off- “Bean, if they haven’t sent me yet, they won’t send you, so don’t worry.” (which is true).  I shoo him off and the Bean and I have a long talk about how the Hubs and I will always love her, that no matter what, she’ll never go to the orphanage and on and on. She calmed down, got lots of loving and went back to bed. And I, being the consummate professional that I am, went back to training, giggling to myself over the drama.

But all this week, the topic keeps coming up. We have even googled where the nearest orphanage is and if our town has one (it doesn’t). I keep having flash backs to when Scorch’s anxiety started – all over a freaking hairless cat in a movie he had seen before. Tonight we walked through a list of the worst things the Bean could think of that she could do and I assured her even if she did that times infinity, I’d still keep her.

And I will, forever- even if some of the things she came up with freaked me out a little!

Favorite Books of 2015

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I read a lot this past year. Like, a lot. According to Goodreads, where I log my books, I read 119 books in 2015. That stupid stat gives me more joy than is healthy. (I’m obsessed).

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So with all those books, you have to figure at least some of them are worth recommending. Here were some of my favorites:

  • Ship of Brides – Jojo Moyes. This book looked at a very little slice of history- namely, how Australian women married to British soldiers during WWII got to England to be reunited with their husbands when the war ended. It was short, sweet and incredibly interesting.
  • I listened to some memoirs by some of my favorite funny women, including both of Mindy Kaling books and Amy Poehler’s Yes Please. I think listening to these women’s words in their own voices made these books 1000x more interesting. The books were funny, touching and much more engaging than I would have thought.
  • I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrois. Oh this book, how it stuck with me. Skylar is a smart, feisty girl on the brink of leaving home for good – something she can’t wait to do.  She grew up poor and knows that college is her best escape option.  Josh was nothing but trouble and when he came back injured from serving overseas at age 19, not much changed. This book captures the yearning of first love, and the yearning of wanting to get out and start fresh so very, very well. Loved it.
  • The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. An amazing book about two sisters and the life they lived in occupied France during WWII. This book broke my heart – it was so, so brutal. I had never given much thought to what life was like for those who lived through the war- the every day person who was just trying to survive- and this book brought all that home in vivid detail. Smart, sad and full of the determination of the human spirit to survive, it was a great read.
  • A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. Out of all the books I read this year, this one is my favorite. Quiet and funny and sweet and full of so much love, the story of Ove and his extraordinarily ordinary life hit me in all the feels. I truly laughed and cried and cannot wait to read it again.
  • I read a fat ton of Urban Fantasy this year and while I feel like I should be embarrassed about that, I loved the books too much to be. My favorite series is still the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews but the October Daye series by Seanan McGuire came in a very close second.
  • A few honorable mentions:
    • Dumplin‘ by Julie Murphy- great audio book about a 17 year old finding her place in a world where being skinny and looking good counts for so very much.
    • The Wrath & The Dawn: YA book with a twist. Not my favorite of the year, but intriguing enough that I can’t wait to read the next.
    • Memory Man by David Baldacci – so many of his book run together for me, but this one had a very unique premise and I enjoyed the hell out of the ride.
    • The Cainsville series by Kelley Armstrong. If you don’t mind slightly supernatural books, this series is great. Eagerly awaiting book 3 from the library.
    • The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan. What happens when a British prince falls in love with an American girl? How much does she have to change to fit into his world? Great read that will make you look at Kate Middleton in a whole new light.

So many good books, so little time! Got any favorites? Please let me know!

Starting Anew

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2013 was a mess in a million small ways, 2014 was the year of change with new jobs and routines, and 2015 was the year we got our feet back under us. I settled into my new jobs and we figured out a routine that more or less works for us 90% of the time. It wasn’t exciting or adrenaline fueled, but it was exactly the year we needed it to be and for that, I’m so very grateful.

That doesn’t mean that 2015 didn’t have it’s highlights. FL in March, the Outer Banks in June and NJ and Niagara Falls in August were all amazing. My parent’s 40th anniversary. School concerts and new sports for the kiddos. Old friends, new friends and family weddings. There were so many moments of joy and contentment and love.

And now- now it’s time to see what 2016 brings.

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I’m not huge on resolutions or proclaiming that I’m turning over a new leaf on January 1 because that’s not how I roll. But there are some things I’d like to do in January:

  • I want to travel some place new to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary
  • I want to be the best Mom I can be
  • I want to  do something that scares me
  • I want to keep nurturing my marriage so it stays strong and healthy
  • I want to make a difference at work
  • I want to make sure my friends and family know how much they are loved
  • I want to keep nurturing my friendships because they, in turn, nurture me.
  • I want to run 3-4 5Ks
  • I want to read until my eyeballs hurt
  • I want to continue being as healthy as I can be.

So, here’s to a new year. A fresh start. A fun beginning. I hope 2016 brings more happiness than sadness, more laughter than tears and more love than your heart can hold.

 

 

 

Making Room

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And just like that, it’s over…Christmas 2015, you were perfect. This year I was on my game- I shopped early with intention and it paid off. The kids were happy, the Hubs was happy and I was happy. We got to spend 4 days straight with family and friends – holding babies, eating so much good food and catching up.

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And now we have a week off at home and that’s just like a little slice of heaven. If, in heaven, you had to clean every room in your house every day to make room for all the new stuff you intentionally bought. This was the living room the day after Christmas:

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It basically makes me want to cry. Living in a smaller home has some great advantages, but finding room for stuff is not one of them. So Monday we completely tore Scorch’s room apart- two garbage bags later, there is now room for all his baseball cards. Because baseball cards and books made up a good 75% of that boy’s Christmas haul.

As for the Bean? Her room is up next. I may need some liquor before I tackle that one. Anyone remember a few years ago when we found a can of purple frosting her in room 4 months after it was used for her birthday cake? Mind you, it’s only been 4 months since we last hauled out her room but the possibilities are just endless when I think about what we could find in there. Say a pray we all come out alive.

Hope you and yours had a wonderful holiday!

 

 

 

Merry, Merry

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Twas 2 days before Christmas and all through the house, mama was frantically wrapping and hoping she didn’t lose a single present.

So far, so good. Yes, the wrapping isn’t finished but the shopping is. We were very mindful of the gifts we got the kids and for the first time, I’m convinced we got it right. Despite my urge to BUY, BUY, BUY for my family, I didn’t. We picked things that I’m sure the kids will love and left the rest at the store. Quality over quantity.

Santa is a Very Big Deal around these parts and it’s a joy to watch the kid’s anticipation. They got their annual video from Santa last night and I thought the Bean’s heart was going to jump out of her chest as she waited to see if she was on the Nice or Naughty list. You could see her body visibly relax when she found out she made it on the Nice list (by the skin of her teeth). Scorch played it cool, but his white knuckle grip on the table during his video gave him away.

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I hope your holidays are blessed with family, friends and more love than you could imagine.

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Crazy 9’s

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So, you guys- none of you told me that 9 year olds are nuts. Because they are. I never associated 9 with being a tween- I still pictured 9 year olds as little kids, but nope, the hormones are a raging and the mood swings (slight as they may be) are starting.

And not one of you warned me.

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Our morning routines have been the same since the kids were itty bitty: eat breakfast, get dressed, brush teeth, brush hair, pack up backpack and put on shoes. That literally hasn’t changed in 6 years and yet, some morning we (read: the kids) struggle with following that pretty basic task list.

Last Thursday was a rushed morning. The kids have 50-odd minutes to get ready in the morning and breakfast took up 30 minutes because they were messing around. I scooted them off to get dressed and told them very clearly that they had 2 minutes to do so (their clothes were already laid out- God bless uniforms). 2 minutes go by and Bean is dressed, but Scorch is making some sort of tunnel system under my blankets so I told him that he lost electronics for the day and that he had 1 minute to get dressed. He got dressed in 37 seconds and proudly proclaimed that he earned back electronics. When I told him that it doesn’t work that way, he sobbed. And raged. And sobbed some more. I yelled, he yelled, the Hubs yelled and the Bean acted like a perfect angel just to tick her brother off even more.

The sobbing continued on the ride to school with deep, gulping breaths telling me how hard the mornings were because all I did was yell and he was so overwhelmed because I gave him 3 things to do at the same time and he was only human. When I very calmly suggested perhaps he had a part to play in this by not doing what he was asked the first 4 times, Scorch protested loudly that he always does what he’s told and that I still yell all the time.

After 10 minutes of this, I started to doubt myself. Maybe I do yell too much. Maybe I should be more understanding. Perhaps I do give him too much to do at once- I mean, he’s 9 so maybe telling him that he has to get his shoes on, pack up his backpack and find his coat *is* too much. Maybe I don’t give the kids enough time in the morning and I set us all up for failure. Maybe *I* am the problem.

I apologized to Scorch and we brainstormed a new way to run our mornings to see if things can go smoother. By the time we got to school, the sobs turned into little hiccups and he calmed down. When I parked, I told the kids to get their stuff and hop out so we could head in. Scorch asked for a tissue to dry his eyes while the Bean went inside. I asked (calmly, I may add!) Scorch to get a move on because we were late so he leaned forward to throw his tissue away in the little garbage can I keep between the center console and the dashboard.

After he threw his tissue away, I told him to hop out, but be kept leaning forward further. And then further more. Next thing I know, he’s literally trying to wedge his head between the windshield and the dash. When I asked him what in the world he was doing because it was time to go to school (for those keeping tracking at home, that was the 3rd time he was told that), he told me he was trying to see if he could get his head stuck.

He. Was. Trying. To. See. If. He. Could. Get. His Head. Stuck.

That was when I realized that nope, it wasn’t me, it was that 9 year old boys are crazy, emotional, inattentive, pains in the neck.

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Someone told me that the honeymoon is over and this is the start of the crazy train for at least the next 4 years. Hold me.

 

A Day of Firsts

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When I was in 7th grade, we went to NYC for the day. I’ll always remember that day for two reasons- first, it was the day I bought my very first CD (C&C Music Factory- don’t judge) and second, it was the first time I saw a play on Broadway.

And we didn’t see just any play, we saw The Secret Garden starring Mandy Patinkin. Mandy freaking Patinkin in one of my favorite stories of all time. Can you imagine a better introduction to live theater? I vividly remember sitting on the edge of my seat, mesmerized by what I was watching. The soundtrack for the play was the second CD I ever bought – I could still sing the vast majority of the songs to you today.

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When I was in high school, one of our science teachers also was in charge of the lightening at the local theater that hosted a variety of touring Broadway shows. If we volunteered to serve as ushers, he got us into all the shows for free. Cats, Jesus Christ Superstar, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Guys and Dolls, Chicago- I was lucky enough to see them all.

Unfortunately, like a lot of things do when you have very small kids, going to the theater stopped for a long while.  I saw random shows here and there for our girls night- Menopause the Musical and Fifty Shades, A Parody. Fun, fun shows- but nothing that was mind-blowing except Wicked a few years ago. That was amazing!

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The Hubs and I have been talking for a while about taking the kids to see a show but I wanted to make sure they were old enough to sit through the whole thing and enjoy it. And, like most little things in life, I way over thought what the perfect show would be. I didn’t want to take them to a Broadway show because if they hated it, that was money down the drain. I didn’t want them to see something they weren’t somewhat familiar with so they could follow along. I hemmed and hawed and finally pulled the trigger on tickets to a local production of Peter Pan. I wasn’t sure what to expect- it was put on in conjunction with the local large University, but the tickets were relatively cheap and we didn’t have to drive too long to get there. Today was the day, so we put on our Sunday best and off we went.

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You guys, the kids were mesmerized. It was a fantastic musical with great sets, talented actors, fun musical numbers and a story they kids were familiar enough with that they had no issues keeping up. We were 3 rows from the stage and I worried we were going to be too close, but it was perfect. The actors were right there and the kids couldn’t tear themselves away from the show. I got teary-eyed watching them watch the show- all I could think about was how we nailed this!

Here’s to the next generation of theater fans- and to our next show in March!

 

Thankful Heart: Day 26 – 30

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It’s the end of the month – which means it’s the end of non-stop posts about what I’m thankful for.

When I started this, it felt odd. I wanted to highlight all the things I’m thankful for, but I didn’t want to brag. I don’t want to paint the picture that our lives are sunshine and roses all the time, because they aren’t. But they are pretty damn good and I do have a lot of things to be thankful for. And I am so very grateful for them. I try not to take them for granted and I try to make sure I’m worthy of them. And that, I think, is the key to a happy life.

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Even with a month full of posts on things I’m thankful for, I still didn’t hit them all. So, in no particular order, here are some other things I’m feeling warm and fuzzy about:

> The Hubs is sick with a nasty cold, but he still went outside and decorated our house for Christmas yesterday and it looks beautiful. Nothing makes me happier then coming home to find our house all lit up.

> We had a fantastic Thanksgiving a at my mother-in-law’s house. We ate a great meal and gathered with family that drove a long way to be with us. The food was delicious and plentiful and the company was top-notch.

> When we got back home we got to celebrate Lala’s 5th birthday and, later that night, my aunt’s 75th birthday. If that’s not an amazing day, I don’t know what is.

> My kids. Every minute of every day. Always, so thankful for those goons even when they make me want to curl up in a ball. Some times just looking at them takes my breath away.

> My marriage. We’re celebrating our 15th anniversary in 2016 and coming quickly on our 18th year together. We work hard at it – some days it’s amazing and other days I wonder if we’re going to make it another hour, but we dig in our heels and make it happen. I’m thankful for a partner that is willing to put in the work right next to me.

> Books, books and more books. I’ve read 110 books thus far this year and I’m not stopping. They make me happy, they transport me out of my head and they show me worlds I never dreamed of.

> My critters. The kitties are 14 years old, the dog is 13. They make me crazy (see: stepping in cat puke this morning) and they make my house a mess of fur but I can’t imagine any house of mine without a pet.

> This blog. This will be my 556th post. I started writing this in August of 2010 when the Bean was 2 and Scorch was 4. I love this place, the people I’ve meet and the stories that will be here for my kids to read when they are older.