Monday, March 20, 2017

Fine Universe, I Get It, I Need to Chill Out

Last Friday morning I woke up at 4:30, for the fifth day in a row to get stuff done. 

I did a few minutes of the yoga type stretching that I'm trying to do to help my back. I did a few minutes of writing for my freelance job. I ran upstairs to wake up the teenagers for school. I took a shower. I fed the dogs and let them outside. Went back upstairs to make sure the teenagers were actually up. 

Watched Morning Joe while making a spinach smoothie for the oldest teenager and myself. Made lunches for the kids. Tried to hug the anti-hugging teenagers goodbye as they left in the darkness for the bus stop. Woke up the little boys. Made breakfast for them. Put a load of laundry in the washer. Broke up three fist fights between the little boys (they aren't each other's favorites). Yelled a little bit. Swept up dog hair off the wood floors. Yelled a little bit more. 

Said good morning to Tim who woke up and went to take a shower. Watched as he told jokes to the little boys and then grabbed a banana and went out the door for work. 

I finally dried my hair. Reminded JT to get his homework (for the 10th time). Went outside to start the minivan so the frost would defrost. Cried for a minute in the minivan. Went back inside and told the boys to get their coats on. Had a fight about the actual need for coats. Went outside to drive the boys to school and me to work. Read "key has left the vehicle" on the dashboard. Swore because I was already late. Went inside to look for keys and searched, and searched, and searched. Tried some of those stupid breathing exercises. Swore again. Found my keys in the sink because, duh why not?

We laughed that the keys were in the sink. I was only five minutes late for work. It was 8:05 a.m. I was exhausted. It was funny and ridiculous. But also it was a little bit demoralizing because I can't keep it together. 

I know I should make lunches the night before, I should have the kids make their own lunches (at least the older ones!), I should get myself some Ritalin finally, I should ask Tim to help a little in the mornings, I should chill out, I should use a key ring, I should....All the shoulds end up feeling like more pressure.

How are my teenagers supposed to respect and listen to me? I mean how is anyone supposed to take me seriously? How am I supposed to take myself seriously when I lose my car keys in the fucking kitchen sink!?!?

I am trying to do all the things. I am trying to chill out. I am trying to relax. I am trying to be healthy. I am trying to be a good person and parent. But my god, I think I am sucking at it most of the time.

Today after work I went to the dentist. It was for a normal cleaning but I also have recently begun having some pretty severe tooth sensitivity. 

"You need to relax," my dentist told me. "Have you tried yoga?"

Oh my god! Remember when my doctor told me to try meditation last year to help my peri-menopausal symptoms. I must have the trendiest non-prescription writing doctors in all the land. What the hell?! I'm finally at a point in my life where I am more accepting of taking drugs and I end up with this medical team of natural loving wonders.

It turns out that I am grinding my teeth at night so much that I'm wrecking my teeth. At least a couple of them for now. 

So fine universe. Fine! I will chill the fuck out. I will do all the yoga. I will cut back on caffeine. I will work on the shoulds. I am just shooting for less tooth pain and not losing my keys in the sink. I'm not going to worry about being taken seriously. That ship sailed forever ago.

The other day I was actually in a yoga class. Yoga Dan who was a super chill, super cool guy teaching it was showing us how to use vibrating foam rollers. He stepped on the foam roller and lost his balance a bit. The people in the class all worried and someone said "oh no." Yoga Dan told us not to worry. "It's the ego that's afraid to fall, not me," he said. "I am just going to step off like I stepped on. No worries."

Yoga Dan seems like a smart guy. I'm going to try and just step on and off without my dumb ego getting all worked up. I will keep on keeping on with the shoulds and breathing and 

Got any advice on chilling out, letting go, saying no to late-night grinding, not worrying about everything so much and yoga and meditation and all the rest?

Here are a couple people that I met that I now follow on Instagram

Erin Allen- Yoga Supreme

Yoga Dan!

Here's some yoga and meditation I can handle (it's very swear-y):

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Dear Diary....I Know Some Stuff For Sure This Week

Life just keeps getting busier and busier. I feel like blogging has become like my old diaries where all my entries used to start with "Dear Diary, It's been so long since I wrote in here. So much has happened."

Working a couple part-time jobs, raising a bunch of kids, sort of managing a household and a life has me all kinds of exhausted. 
One afternoon last week we had the house to ourselves unexpectedly and um, we took a nap. Lucy found us like this when she got home from school and took this picture. LOL!
It's hard to find balance, make time for identity and improvement, meditation and coping, being a wife, being active and healthy, being creative. I mean I need 10 more hours in every day please.

I used to write a new blog post every day. Posts about crafts, posts about politics, posts filled with pictures and sometimes funny stories. I wrote posts that were sponsored by toothpaste companies, phone companies and even toilet paper companies. Every Friday I wrote a post about something I knew for sure. Well, here's what I know for sure right now:

  • I miss blogging and writing and being creative.

  • There is power in being silly and I'm so glad I married a man who embraces that fact. This man is ridiculous. 

  • Time is going faster. I mean that's a thing right? The older you get, the faster time goes.
    Look at this cute boy, that's my baby!
  • Having active, sporty kids is really wonderful. But um, they do get hurt a lot and it's making me crazy (er).

JT's sporty cast for his broken finger!

Saw this poster at one of the dr.'s offices we were in recently. Took a picture to know what's ahead...

  • I want to lose weight and be healthy, but I also really love to eat. A lot.
Yes please, anytime. Seriously, anytime.

  • I want a long silk robe, with shoulder pads. Yup. After watching the movie Jackie I wanted a long robe like the ones Natalie Portman wears. She looked so sophisticated. But then I was watching Golden Girls the other day and I LOVE that Dorothy's long robe had shoulder pads. LOOOOOOVE. I need and want a fancy long robe. And by the way, I laugh out loud at the Golden Girls. It's some funny shit.
So sophisticated right?

So freakin awesome right?

  • I need more sleep now that I'm entering the middle forties.
  • Summer is better than winter. Look, I like winter sports, I embraced Hygee-ing but dude, summer is just better. I can't wait for sitting on the porch, swimming, sunshine and sundresses.
  • I'm down for learning and embracing yoga. It's going to be my new thing. I recently hurt my back and it suuuuuucked. It all comes down to a weak core and tight hips. That needs to change, so I will be embracing yoga.
  • I'm planning my road trip for this summer and I AM SO EXCITED! The countdown is officially on. St. Louis here I come (and a million places in between). It's going to be epic.
  • Vanderpump Rules is one of my favorite reality shows. I can't believe I know that for sure, but I do. I teared up at the preview for the upcoming wedding episode. I mean they fly the brothers in? Come on! I'm not even embarrassed anymore. I need distraction from the news of the world and this show is where it's at.
  • Fabletics pants are the bomb. I just got my first pair and they are awesome. Which makes me happy because I'm a big Kate Hudson fan and I wanted her company to be good. 

Friday, March 3, 2017

I Have A Teenage Daughter

"When Lucy was 4 or 5, we asked her what she wanted to try," I recalled. "Do you want to try soccer or tennis or dance? What do you want to do?," I told everyone I had probably read in a parenting magazine that it was good to empower the children and give them a voice in what activities they did. "Lucy looked right at me and she said dreamily, 'I want to learn to ride unicorns.' I was like whaaaaat?" We all laughed and laughed.

I told that story while we ate cake and celebrated Lucy turning 13. The other night we sat around the table as a family and each told a story, or two, about Lucy. It's a tradition we started on Peyton's 13th birthday. We needed a family ritual to honor the children becoming teenagers and storytelling seemed like a good one. 

Peyton told the story about Lucy saying she wanted to be "a cop" at preschool graduation. Wade and JT told stories about hanging out and playing with Lucy. Tim and I told stories about Lucy's independence and imagination and how she has always read at all the boys' games and her standing up for herself on the playground and making us laugh and more.

This is a timeline that Lucy made of her life in first grade circa 2010. She had to pick a few moments that impacted her life. She picked "helping get the president elected" in 2008. I have loved having her with me canvassing, at the rallies and protests and meetings over the years. I am glad it impacts her. I love watching her form her own opinions and beliefs about the world as she gets older.

I have a teenage daughter. That sounds weird. I feel like I just was a teenage daughter. 

My teenage daughterhood actually haunts me a bit.  It wasn't great. It was terrible actually. This is a story I didn't share the other night but it shaped who I am as a person and a mother. When I was 12 I started my period and my parents got divorced. When I was 13 I started acting out and my mother started having a mental breakdown. She and I both started drinking and smoking around then too. Three turbulent years later, both my parents lived in different states and I was living with another family trying to figure out how to grow up. It was a lot of life for both my mother and me.

Now that I have a teenage daughter of my own, I have mixed feelings. I can't imagine going through a divorce and a mental breakdown while having ego-centric/hormonal/emotional teenagers. My heart breaks for my mom and I understand her better. I understand a little more why she drank and self-medicated, not knowing the powerful and horrific genetic disposition for addiction she possessed. 

But I'm also terrified. I don't know how to have a teenage daughter.

"You are not mom," my sister texted me a couple months ago. It's a reminder I need a lot. I know I'm not. I mean I have a great marriage and a stable life. I'm not an addict. I'm not my mom. And Lucy isn't me.

Sitting at the table the other night listening to all the stories about Lucy and watching her smile and feel loved, made me so happy. Lucy is smart and kind and sensible. She loves to read. A lot. She is witty. She is quietly very brave and has very high standards. She knows she is loved. 

As we manage our way through these next few years, I will work on not taking things personally (holy shit this is so hard for me! Waaaa!) and not always expecting the worst things to happen. I will have faith in the foundation of love and stability that Tim and I  have worked so hard to build and provide our family. 

I am not my mother and Lucy is not me. Sure she'll make mistakes and so will I. But we are forging a new path of motherhood and daughterhood. Not my past, but our future. 

This is right after we gave each other makeovers (I went a little heavy on the makeup! lol) and we tried to do serious poses. Which made us laugh and laugh because we looked like some cheap poster for a creepy low-budget Lifetime movie about a tired mom and a rebellious teen. LOL.

Based on what I've read in parenting books and seen on TV and movies, it's going to be a bumpy ride but we'll get to the other side. And yes, I secretly hope we'll be best friends on the other side and tell each other everything, but trying not to put too many expectations or pressure on that. Lol.

So, hello 13. Hello having a teenage daughter. Here we goooooooo!

She's the Rory to my Lorelei. She is serious and sensible and witty. I am more immature at times than she is. 

She's got the teenage selfie/pout face/duck lip thing down.

She's a good big sister most of the time.

She and Tim are very close. She has a great father.

I love her so much.

Friday, February 24, 2017

I'm Sort of Okay

"Maybe this will help," JT said and he turned on the radio. We put the windows down and let the air rush into the car. It was oddly warm for an evening in late February in Michigan, 63 degrees. JT stuck his head out the window and let the wind blow through his hair. When he settled back in his seat, his hair stuck straight up and all over the place. He looked at me and smiled. The light from the setting sun streaming through his wild blonde hair.  I smiled. We nodded our heads to a trippy  Milky Chance song on the radio and I drove home. 

It was a good moment. A moment that made me feel alive and in love with the world and my life and my kids. And so grateful. 

It did help.


The day before the kids were off from school and I had forced them outside to enjoy the mild weather. "Get off your phones, get outside," I told the older kids. "Play basketball together in the driveway."

They decided to take the little boys down the street to the church parking lot to play basketball together. After an hour, it started to sprinkle. I jumped in my minivan and went to give them a ride home. I pulled into the parking lot and saw my four kiddos red-faced and full of life and laughing together. I couldn't believe I didn't have my phone to take a picture of them at that moment--they looked so alive and happy. "Get in, I'll take you home," I yelled out the window.

"No!," they all protested. "We have to finish our game."

"But it's raining," I said.

"Who cares, it's just misting," Lucy said. "We are fine mom. We want to keep playing."

So, I drove home to grab my phone so I could take a picture of my cool kids who weren't wimping out because of a little mist. Before I could get back in my minivan, JT was racing through the front door, "Mom, you've got to come, it's his leg, it's Peyton's leg, he needs you,"

We jumped into the minivan and went to help Peyton. After a trip to the emergency room, we found out it was just a sprain and would heal without a cast or surgery. He would have to stay off it for a few weeks, but he would be fine.

Peyton was disappointed but okay. I wasn't. I was pissed off and scared and fed up. I wasn't okay. I haven't been for a few years. Ever since I got a phone call from the school two years ago that Peyton had fallen in gym class and had a severe concussion. He lost his vision for a few hours and his brain swelled which led to a hospital stay and multiple specialists, and ultimately thank god no long-lasting effects. Then the broken femur in the football game and the ambulance rides and surgery and physical therapy. Then surgery again. And then the sprained ankle. 

For someone whose genetic destiny is full of dodging pre-existing minefields loaded with panic attacks and anxiety, having active kids that get injured is a cruel fate. I know it could be worse. I know. Believe me, I envision it a lot. I am grateful that his head healed and his leg and his ankle. I am so grateful. But I'm also fucking scared. I'm terrified of the randomness of it all and the unfairness of it all. I am pissed that there are evil, selfish people in the world that don't get injured, not that I want anyone to be injured, but really. I feel like making deals with a God I struggle to believe in.
Sometimes being so self-aware sucks. I know that I need to stop worrying so much. I know.

Loving my kids so much and worrying that they will get hurt is too much to bear. I feel like I'm just going to constantly run around like Shirley MacLaine in "Terms of Endearment" for the rest of my life--demanding justice for my kids and care and love and that they give my kids the damn shot if they need one. And holy shit that movie, I get it so much more now as a parent of older kids. A couple people online suggested bubble wrap and fuck, I wish I could just wrap my "babies" up for the rest of their lives and keep them safe and healthy.

Not being sure if your kid will live or die, even if it's for just a few minutes, changes you forever. I've always been an overly-sensitive person, but after that phone call and the last few years of injuries, I can't shake the fear. It's not there all the time, but when something happens, it comes back. Like a wave of horror and panic, like an out of body experience, like it's all happening to someone else. It's awful.

But just like the Feist song, I feel it all. Coupled with my anxiety that constantly simmers under the surface, there is also so much compassion for people who are dealing with unimaginable loss and pain and illness, and more appreciation for the moments that make it all okay. The moments with my kids, the light of the sun setting, good music, cheering my kids on at  their games, laughing on the front porch, dancing in the kitchen. The moments that make us feel alive and in love with life and the world. 

We went on our first family ski trip last weekend. It was full of ahhhhhhhmazing moments.

My god I love these people, and these dogs, so much my heart feels like it will burst.

With the help of therapy and my newfound appreciation for "situational Xanax" and a husband who rivals that guy from This is Us, and also simply feeling it all...I'll get through this roller coaster of vulnerability and strength of parenting and loving my kids so god damn much. 


"You know I'm just feeling a little quiet and wonky because I love you all so much, right?" I asked JT as we got closer to home. 

"I know," he said and we kept on nodding our heads to the music.


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Valentine's Day, I Think I Love You

Twas the night before Valentine's Day and all through the one cared.

Wait, except they did. Two of my kids wanted to give their friends cards and gifts at the last minute. So we raced to Kroger to see what Valentine's Day cards were left. It turned out, not much. I refused to spend more than $4 on anything. I rolled my eyes at over priced hearts filled with chocolate. I made fun of people that "made a big deal about Valentine's Day" out loud.

"What has happened to me?," I asked Lucy who was with me. "When did I become such a Valentine's Day Scrooge? Don't I believe in love?"

It's the first time in over a decade that I haven't decorated the house or made cutesy hearts for the big day.

Can I blame this on post-election/inaugural fatigue and depression? Is Trump to blame for my lack of Valentine's Day excitement? Maybe. But it could also be a busy life and older kids that aren't that into my cutesy hearts. Maybe it's just a slump. Maybe it's because it's on a Tuesday. Maybe it's because I'm tired. Whatever it is, I'm just not that into it.

I was waiting for that moment when I get out of my slump. That moment when I throw open the shutters and tell everyone I love them and throw out a nickel for someone to go buy a goose, i.e. Scrooge's morning after the spririts' visit. Or the moment my heart grows three sizes, I mean if I were a Valentine's Day Grinch (which I think I am!).


Then it happened. It might not have been as dramatic as buying a goose, but I did remember how much I love love and how lucky I feel and how there's so many things to smile about. And how even after all these years of talking about not getting caught up in expectations and what things are supposed to look like, I did; and how Valentine's Day can be every day, and love is love is love and ahhhhhh.

The spirit of Valentine's Day hit me when I was playing DJ at the first grade party and I was dancing with a bunch of sweet kiddos not caring how silly we looked. Once again dancing and silliness for the win. It ALWAYS reminds me that there is goodness in the world.

Later that night, Tim and I tried to have a romantic candlelight dinner in the middle of our chaotic family, and it was kind of hilarious and perfect. Especially when Wade joined us and talked our ears off about his day. 

I'm not the worst or a Valentine's Day Scrooge because I was grumpy at Kroger (I mean who isn't grumpy at Kroger sometimes right?)or because it was the first time in a decade that I didn't decorate the house with paper hearts and make heart shaped-brownies like a "good mom." I was the worst for forgetting that love looks different all the time and it's in all the small and big moments in my family. 

Love is a family dinner ritual with candles and conversation and laughs. Monday night seems to be the night lately that everyone is home and we can eat together, so I jumped on it and I look forward to Monday nights all weekend long.

Love is embracing a different kind of romance. Having older kids means we don't have to hire a babysitter. We took advantage of this and snuck out to a happy hour last Friday night where I had three cheap glasses of wine! Annnnnd then went home and watched a movie with the little boys and went to bed before 10 p.m. Boosh!

Love is being happy about the simple things. Like PJ day at Preschool. One of the 5,764 things I love about working in a preschool is wearing my pajamas to work. The best!

Perfect Valentine's Day PJ shirt. 

Love is falling in love with your husband all over again because he is an incredible father. He's the kind of father in TV shows and movies that you think couldn't possibly be real because who is that kind and good? Tim is. The other day we were talking about how Wade is having trouble being the youngest of four busy kids, some who are being pretty teenager-y lately. Tim said, "He needs the tractors at Home Depot." Tim and I took Wade to sit on the tractors, and they pretended they were spaceships. Tim knew he needed time to be a little kid. And my heart exploded with love.

Love is watching your kids do what they love and become even more interesting people. 

Lucy in her happy place--a book store!!!!! Ahhhhh!!!!!!!

JT and sports = his true love. And I love that mural in the small town gym. Love is art and hope!

Gulp, love is letting go and letting your kids grow up. Holy woah, Peyton got his driver's permit. 

Love is taking a minute and remembering what you love about your kids and telling them. Filling out this heart was a "homework assignment" for parents sent by JT's teacher. And just like I did when I was in school, I forgot about it until the morning it was due. Lol. I turned it in on time and enjoyed thinking about all the things I love about JT and letting him know.

I'm not the worst or a Valentine's Day Scrooge because I was grumpy at Kroger (I mean who isn't grumpy at Kroger sometimes right?)or because it was the first time in a decade that I didn't decorate the house with paper hearts and make heart shaped-brownies like a "good mom."

I might be the worst because I forgot how lucky I am and how love is everywhere. Right now when things seem so wonky in the world, remembering the simple but huge moments I love feels good. This "Hallmark holiday" helped remind me of all the love. So geez, Valentine's Day, I think I love you!

(Our Valentine's Night Dinner, for three, lol)

This classic from The Partridge Family seems appropriate:

One of my favorite romantic love/Valentine's Day scenes from a movie: