Life

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What can you say about life? It has been a hectic year. Not much has really gone according to plan (if you read about my vacation in New Zealand…that is an excellent example). I had a hysterectomy the week of Thanksgiving. After three years of excessive bleeding, I’m finally done. But it has been a long recovery and much harder than I expected. It’s not that I expected to be up and about instantly. But it’s all the small things I didn’t expect that dishearten me. My brain doesn’t seem to remember things, and looking on the forums I am not alone in this problem. Many are saying it took 6 months to a year before they seemed to have a functioning brain. Which isn’t upsetting at all (that was sarcastic). Same goes with fatigue. It can be overwhelming at times. So while this is a very good thing in the long run, it’s hard to keep that in focus when I feel trapped inside the house and completely useless to my family. About two weeks after my surgery, my in-laws came to visit. The day before they arrive, my car started making noises. Well, I should clarify, it was making the same noises that it has been for a while. But now they were louder, more pronounced, and distinctly intimidating. We took the car in, only to discover that basically all the frame of the front end was cracking. Not just minor cracks or bends, but everything was about ready to shatter. They had to order the parts, as my van is now old enough where they don’t keep them on hand. My mom, graciously, allowed us to borrow my dad’s car (Did I forget to mention that he travelled to Togo, Africa for 6 weeks to work as a doctor in a medical mission hospital up there? Well, he did. So he didn’t need his car. So we took his car). They finally fixed it all, so we now have basically a brand new front end but are out $2,500 (I love our shop, they do a great job and are reasonable it could have been a LOT more). I’m grateful that I didn’t have a major accident while driving that time bomb around town. Also, during all this, my grandma died. She was suffering from dementia and had been deteriorating, but it is still surprising the sense of loss. So, my in-laws visit two weeks after my surgery, and half way through their visit I travel back to my home state for my grandmother’s memorial. There was relief, knowing that she’s now in heaven and her mind is whole. But it was surprisingly hard too. After this, I make it home, and we have more personal things happen. Family members are struggling, and awful crap happening at workforce my husband. I have no control over these things. They are private and not mine to share. But the frustration at seeing those you love suffer, and being unable to do anything about it is painful and humbling. All I can do is go down on my knees, pray for wisdom, and show love as best I can. In the meantime I visualize kicking various butts around until people start to use common sense again.
My dad calls us via Skype on Christmas to tell us good and bad news. One of the surgeons he was working with had a dad visiting him. This dad ended up with failing kidneys. Nowhere in Togo did they have the treatment to help this man, so he needed to travel back to the states and needed constant medical supervision to do so. My dad ended up coming home a few weeks early, after volunteering to provide that medical supervision. It was wonderful to have him back home with us, but I know it was hard for him to end his trip early, feeling like he hadn’t completed his mission. The day he came home, while we greeted him at the airport, Sir Smiley received news that his dad’s best friend, a man who was like a second father to him growing up, had died suddenly and unexpectedly. I have only seen my husband truly cry three times in life. Once when his grandpa died. Once at the funeral of our twin boys. The third being while we drove home after he got this news. We couldn’t afford for him to go back for the funeral, but we were there in spirit. Finally, I got a text that my grandma (the other one) had been admitted into the ER for chest pain. After a long night of worrying, she was released. They never found out what was wrong, but all the tests came back just fine. The relief that I didn’t need to deal with more tragedy was deep.

No one’s life is perfect. When you peel back the layers, there is always struggle and heartbreak. Also, no one’s life is without blessings. Each and everyone of us has been blessed. Life is a mixture of both. At my church we learned the importance of contentment. The final commandment is do not covet, and at the heart of that is God telling us that He should be enough. We should not want any life other than what we’ve been given. Sometimes this is easy to do. Other times it is not. The past month has been such a jumble of stuff that this lesson has been important for me. I lost a grandma. But she is whole and well, and with my boys and other family members that have gone before us. Recovery from my surgery has been long. But it’s taught me to stop earning love from others and just accept love and aid when others offer it. I can’t control everything. In fact, the facade has been ripped away and I truly realize how little I am in control of anything. But it’s deepened my reliance on God. There has been a lot of heartache. But my family is strong. I love my husband. I’m proud of him, and our love is deep. My children can be crazy and difficult. But they are so precious to me. I’m grateful for all the blessings God has given me. Because I realize how much we take for granted until it starts to get pulled away.

Life. What can you say about life? It is what God gave me.

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What do you do all day? Part 2

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Wanna be up to speed? Here’s the introduction. This is the first part of my day. Basically, it takes up until about noon. Wanna know what I did the rest of the day? Hope so, since that is the illustrious topic of today’s post. Without further ado, I’ll pick up right after lunch.

12:15 – After lunch, the kids ran around the house a bit while I cleaned up their dishes.
12:20 – I then put King Toot in his room for “quiet rest time”. The rule…I don’t care what you do in there as long as it is quiet. They need some down time…and so do I! Some days this works and I get a bit of a break. But more often than not it is like today…where every 15 minutes I have to go in and remind him to be quiet. Then I discover that he has pooped and is happily playing in it. Now rethinking my decision to potty train just yet.
12:25 – I finally make my lunch…and consume it. I also play Candy Crush and then watch Dr. Who for a bit of a respite.
1:30 – I pick up the house, including the misc toys that have been distributed every where.
2:10 – I head out to run errands with Urpling. We go and check the mail, where I have to remind her three times that she’s not allowed to squish the bags of packing peanuts. We then go to deposit a check, during which time Urpling asks for money to play an arcade game. I refuse. We then head to Goodwill where I buy some new movies and toys (well, new to us) for our church preschool. Finally we brave Walmart to buy a few groceries. Urpling helps me scan things at the self check out. She has a blast…even if each item took about 4 tries. Did I mention we spent every moment in the car listening to “Let it Go” while Urpling belts the song out at the top of her lungs? Well, we did. It was simultaneously adorable, hilarious, and aggravating.
3:10 – We get home and I unload Urpling and the groceries.
3:20 – By this time I have put all the groceries away and I load Urpling and King Toot into the double stroller to go get Sasquatch and two of our neighbor kids.
3:30 – We make it to school just as the kids are being let out and I walk the two kids who live behind me to their home. Sasquatch tells me about her bad day where the other kids blamed her for bringing acorns into the class, even though she didn’t do it. I console and commiserate with her.
3:40 – I drop off the neighbors, and then King Toot cries because he can’t go to neighbors.
3:42 – King Toot goes onto time out because the massive disappointment of having to come home caused him to shriek in a pitch that only dogs can hear.
3:45 – I get all the kiddos settled and they have a snack…which is left over candy from Halloween. Mom win…or fail?
4:05 – I work with Sasquatch on her homework. So grateful her math homework does not require drawing pictures to demonstrate the problem…considering she is very artistic and must include great detail in each drawing. Math homework can take a really, really, really, really long time when that happens.
4:20 – Leaving Sasquatch to work on her own math problems, I go to take a shower.
4:45 – I emerge and start prepping dinner. At this time I also make all the kids lunches for tomorrow. As I cook, I watch Dr. Who. Because, well, it’s Dr. Who. (Don’t ask me how many times I’ve watched Dr. Who. Mainly because cause I’ve lost track. Also, don’t tell me about the new season. I haven’t seen it and, “Spoilers!”. Bonus points go to you if you just read that quote in Dr. River Song’s voice…)
5:45 – Dinner and lunches for tomorrow are now ready. I get everything dished up and Sir Smiley proceeds to help me get everything on the table while we summon small ones to come eat.
5:55 – All the kids actually eat most of their food. King Toot does require a mixture of pleading, cheering, and a bit of force to get him to eat his. Sir Smiley and I thoroughly enjoyed it…as dinner turned out quite good.
6:15 – Our friend joins us and also enjoys the food I made, while I proceed to chase kids around. I manage to get shoes on all children’s feet, and both girls are wearing their vests for Awana. I do have to ask Urpling to put her shoes on 3 times before she responds and actually does it. In the meantime, Sasquatch is still somehow eating a miniature candy bar. How she can manage to turn a bite-sized snickers into 5 minutes of eating…I can’t quite figure out. It is, by definition, the size of one bite.
6:25 – I leave to drop all the kids off at church. I herd them each to their prospective room and then practically skip back out to the car. I drive home…alone…for the first time that day and enjoy the three minutes of solitude.
6:35 – I arrive home to help Sir Smiley lead our bible study. We go through a few chapters of the “Screwtape Letters” and have some deep discussion about virtues and how Satan tries to render them (and us) powerless to work for God. It was some good stuff.
8:05 – Sir Smiley graciously goes to pick up the kids for me so I can stay and talk to my friend. We hang out and chat until the chaos returns. Then she heads home.
8:30 – The kids come home. Sasquatch has said all her sections…plus some extra ones…and was very proud of herself. She had been struggling to actually focus enough during AWANA to say the verses she had practiced all week, so this was a big victory for her. King Toot at this point is past his expiration date, and he has turned sour.
8:45 – King Toot, having refused to actually nap today, proceeds to have a clear and epic meltdown. Not a tantrum…but an actual meltdown (there is a difference). I dressed him for bed, and then we wrapped ourselves up in a blanket and I rocked him and sang to him until he calmed down. Then off to bed he went. In the meantime the girls helped finish off the dessert from bible study.
8:50 – Put the girls to bed, and read to them. We’re now reading slowly through chapter books, and read picture books during the day. It keeps Sasquatch’s attention better…and mine.
9:07 – I reread a letter Sir Smiley wrote to double check it for him.
9:17 – The girls, refusing to sleep, start whining at each other because Urpling is singing too loudly and Sasquatch can’t rest when she’s being so loud. Urpling is upset because she’s singing to her animal and her animal can’t sleep if she doesn’t sing to it. I do a little negotiating and eventually convinced them both, begrudgingly, to quiet down.
9:20 – Sat down to watch the newest episode of Supernatural before calling it a night…only to discover there was no new episode this week. Oh the humanity! I now have to wait an entire week before watching the 200th episode. So I console myself with some…you guessed it…Dr. Who.
10:40 – I set the alarm for 6:15 am thinking I can get a few chores done before the kids wake up.

This should give you a general idea of my days. A few last minute notes:
– This is NOT all inclusive. I’m unable to jot down every single moment with great detail (and I don’t want to…it’s already long enough). It doesn’t include Sasquatch making a lego church, or Urpling pushing King Toot around in bike trailer. It doesn’t include Sir Smiley and I making kid sandwich hugs. It doesn’t include my kids running at daddy full speed and jumping on him…over and over and over again. Squealing and laughing every time.
– King Toot is a strong willed kid. No doubt about it. I talk about that in other posts. Feel free to read. But I want it on the record that while he screams a lot, he is not spoiled. I deal with him as fairly and consistently as is humanly possible. Also, while he is far from compliant…he is also my most snuggly child. Whenever I need a hug or some snuggles, he is always up for it. His favorite game is to say, “Iwuvoo” to me so that I’ll grab him and shower him with hugs and kisses. I wouldn’t change him for the world.
– Some days are easier. Some days I get a miraculous nap in. Or we sit all snuggled on the couch together watching a movie. Or I get to have some “me time”.
– some days are harder. I cry, or go to my room to scream and throw things so I don’t take my frustrations out on my kids. Or I’m so tired I’m just ready to be done with kids. Where I want to walk out the front door, not forever but for a day or so.
– All moms (and I suspect dads…although I feel I’m not qualified to speak for them) have these same daily struggles. The highs and lows will look a little different but we all have them. I like being honest about it. I love being a mom. There are moments I am trying to grab and hang on to with all my might before they slip away. Others I cheer like my team made the super bowl when they finally pass. But I love my life. This was a sample of it, to give you a glance in the window. Hope you found it enlightening..or at least entertaining.

In keeping with parenting debates

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My last post was about one of the big parenting debates: spanking. Apparently I’m going for a theme, because this one will be about stay at home moms vs working moms. I constantly see these debates going on between them. Essentially both are trying to prove their importance to the other. Both sides feel misunderstood…probably because they are. As a SAHM, I can’t fully grasp what working moms go through. Because I haven’t done it. I can get a general idea, I can empathize, but I can’t actually understand what they go through. Same goes for them. So we sit and debate each other about our lives. Why? No idea. We want to feel validated and when someone else doesn’t validate us the way we want them to we react…and a debate ensues.
How do mothers…society really…determine a person’s value? By how busy they are. So we get a debate raging and working mothers bemoan how busy and stressful their lives are…thus they are important. So SAHM respond by attempting to prove how busy they are. How they have to spend all day every day with kids. Picking up after them, entertaining them, etc. So they are just as stressed and busy as working moms and thus are just as important.
I’ll be honest. I’m not here to do that. I stay at home BECAUSE it is less stressful. I’m not as busy. I have time to play with my kids, fold the laundry, and keep the house in order without trying to squeeze these things in at the end of a busy day at work. I don’t have to try to fit my quality time in with my husband and my kids when I’m already exhausted from working all day elsewhere. It’s why I chose to stay home. It doesn’t mean that I’m not stressed or busy…sometimes. Because I am. It doesn’t mean I’m not struggling day to day. Because I do. It also doesn’t mean I’m less important. Because I’m not. Being busy and stressed doesn’t make a person important…it makes them stressed and busy. Being a mom is what makes you important. Working moms, SAHM moms…we all have ups and downs to our lives. But we all are important!
Over the next couple days, I’ve decided to answer a big question SAHMs get a lot. WHAT DO YOU DO ALL DAY? I’m tracking my day today and I’ll split it up over the next day or two. But I wanted to introduce the concept today with this post serving as a preface. This does not prove that I’m more important. I’m important because of my three kiddos I’m pouring my life into and a husband I work hard to stay close to and support through all the ups and downs. But I also don’t sit around watching soaps and eating Bon-bons all day. So these posts will be a humorous look into what a SAHM deals with. I hope you all will enjoy it…tomorrow. Cause that’s when I’m writing it. I’ve already been writing this post for about 10 minutes and that’s plenty. I’m like George RR Martin. You need patience as you wait for the next epic installment.

Yet Another Parenting Debate…

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I wasn’t sure how to title this blog. I’m not sure how I will approach this blog. I wasn’t sure whether I would even write this blog. But these thoughts are swirling through my head and I need to get them out. So here I go.

This whole Adrian Peterson thing has once again started a social media frenzy of people weighing in on spanking. I’ve read a lot of articles. Spanking is child abuse. Spare the rod spoil the child. It makes my head hurt. Apparently we’re all experts here. We all have psychology degrees and know what’s best for everyone else. Also, we apparently have to choose a side on this. We’re either supposed to declare unequivocally that spanking is wrong and a form of child abuse…or that if you don’t spank you are indulgent and spoil your kids. I will let you know right now…I fall under neither camp (or either camp…whatever. My grammar has always sucked eggs. Whatever that means.)

I could tell you my thoughts and defend a side. I could point out that reacting to a child hitting by turning around and hitting them back seems like nonsense and illogical. I could point out how most kids turn out well-rounded and respectful without ever receiving a spanking. I could also turn around and point out that no..I don’t spank my husband. But I also don’t put him in time out, ground him, or discipline him. That yelling at kids can also be abuse but that doesn’t mean to avoid abuse we would never talk to our kids. Or that hitting itself isn’t hurtful…it’s my sons favorite form of affection (he will walk up to me, tell me he loves me, and give me a good “love punch”). But we’ve all heard it all. Back and forth and back we go. We keep trying to show that we’re good parents by the form of discipline we choose.

Which brings us to the crux of all my thoughts. I think the truth is soooooo much more difficult than what style of parenting we choose (yes, I do believe spanking is a form of discipline and not abuse. No, I don’t begrudge those who think differently…you are entitled to your opinion and undoubtably have well thought out reasons behind it. Yes, that was probably a run-on sentence but I refer to my “grammar sucks eggs” comment). The truth is more difficult to define, and more difficult to achieve. Abuse is so much more than an action. It is created by who you are as a parent. It is created by the environment you have made, the love (or lack of love) you show. It’s created by your heart. It’s easy and safe to declare to yourself (and maybe others) that I’m a good parent because I’ve never yelled. Because I don’t spank. Because I do spank. Because I’ve followed the rules I’ve chosen. But what environment have you created is really what is essential.

My example…I was spanked as a child. I’m not justifying spanking by using the old anecdotal “I was spanked and turned out fine”. It’s not just that I turned out fine. It’s that growing up, my home was the only place where I felt truly safe. School, even church, were filled with those who were mean or cruel. But my home was my safe haven. Spanking didn’t create or destroy that safe haven. My parents were the ones to create that haven, through their day to day patience and love for me. They were open with me. I could tell them things and not worry about anger or extreme reactions. I knew that every single time my dad got mad at me that 10 minutes later he would be knocking on the door and hugging me. I had always done something that deserved his anger, but received his love and comfort…every single time. It even became a problem because when I got married I would get angry at my husband for not coming to me when I was upset. Because my dad had been so good at that. My mom was patient…constantly and consistently there for me. When things went bad she defended me. She talked about the difficult topics and didn’t shy away from them. In short, I don’t remember much about their discipline style. I just remember how my home felt. The joy and sorrow that were openly shared with each other. I just remember feeling safe in a way I’ve only ever experienced with my husband since leaving home.

So I don’t care if you spank or if you don’t. I do care about who you are and what you are to your children. What environment to you create? I’ve read comments about people saying spanking turned their home into a place of fear. I would say that it wasn’t the spankings that did that. I’ve seen similar environments where spanking wasn’t used…but emotional abuse was. Or even emotional distance. I’ve seen parents who have turned spanking into abuse. Who have created a reign of terror in their home. They are abusing their kids. It’s easier to say that you are a good or bad parent based on a certain discipline style. It is so much harder to actually address your heart. Why are you disciplining you child? Why do you react the way you do? To actually pause and think and pray over your decisions.

I will be going back to avoiding Facebook. Because to be honest, when I read other people telling me how to parent, I have discovered a troubling trend. When I react to situations…it is now with the thought of how it would look to other people. No longer do I think of my child and their needs, or God and what he is guiding me to do. My home is much more peaceful and full of joy when I only include two other people in the decisions of my children. God and my husband. I will continue to pray each day that God would shape me and my husband into parents that make our home a haven. A home that gives my children a glimpse of what heaven and the fellowship there will be like.

I respectfully request that you refrain from debate in the comments section about spanking. Whether you are for or against it, those comments will be deleted. I’m not technologically literate enough to figure out how to disable comments at this point (and just a tad bit lazy) so I’ll be doing this the old-fashioned way and trusting you. Thanks.

Treasure these moments

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My mind has been a whirlwind of thoughts lately. Spending 80 hours driving in a car with three small ones probably didn’t help matters. But recently life seems to have been going in fast forward. I would just like to hit the pause button just for a minute. Just to take a moment to soak in these moments of my three little ones.

Now, here’s the thing. I get really irked when people tell me to treasure these moments before their gone. Wait, let me elaborate. I don’t dislike the advice, except it seems to be spouted to me at the worst times. No one says it to me when my kids are giggling and squealing as they tickle each other, or wrap their little arms around me to give me hugs and kisses. It is always at those difficult moments. I once had King Toot in full melt down mode punch Urpling in the head so that she started wailing…while I was in the check out line trying to pay for food and grab bags of stuff to put back in the cart. I gave an exasperated sigh and the little old lady waiting in line behind me told me to treasure these moments as they fly by. I promptly assured her that I did treasure moments with my kids…just not these moments. I stand by that. I’m no expert and my kids aren’t grown so I cannot say definitively, but I’m willing to go out on a limb with this and say certain moments will not be missed. Never peeing alone, trying to take a prison shower before Chernobyl erupts in the living room over a bent up card from a game we no longer have, cooking every night only to watch three little beings poke at it for an hour claiming to not be hungry even though just ten minutes earlier was pleading for gold fish or cookies because they were SOOOOOOOOOO hungry…these moments are not something I will cherish. I’m fairly certain that the passing of these moments, never to return, are the silver lining to help ease the pain of your children slowly growing more and more independent and needing us less and less (that and grand babies. I’m pretty sure grand babies are a good salve on the wound of our children leaving us. They are the rewards for putting our time in with our kids. Little ones to love and dote on, spoil and pamper, and then pass back to mom and dad at the end of the day. I do plan on cherishing those moments!)

These ponderings were prompted by my preparations for the coming school year. Our family has a fairly strict routine we follow. Why? Because the elaborate schedule gives me peace. Everything I need to get done in a week has a place. Since it has a place, I can let go of it and stop stressing over it the rest of the week. I digress. As I was reworking our schedule I had to adjust several things. For example, last year Sasquatch only went to half day kindergarten. So she was gone for the morning, but I got to keep her the rest of the time. But now she will be gone all day. Which really hit me when I realized that she wouldn’t need to help pick up each day…because she wouldn’t be there to make a mess. *insert a few tears and a small and delicate sniffle for dramatic effect.* No more elaborate forts. No more “decorations” to make the house pretty that consisted of whatever random toys she found coating every surface of every shelf and door knob and bed and chair. No more elaborate Calvin and Hobbes books that she drew for me. Okay, I know, she still will have the weekends and evenings to do these things but it’s a really big jump in my life. For 6 years it’s been just Sir Smiley, Me, and the kids. We occasionally made excursions into the real world but usually it was our own little world. We’ve slowly been losing that and this feels like the big moment, the end of an era. Sasquatch will be in children’s choir at church, and be with the big kids (at least they’re big in my mind), she’ll be eating multiple meals a week without me, and will be having all these experiences that have nothing to do with me.

A sudden desperation to squeeze in as much time with her as possible has seized me. She is, of course, excited to finally eat lunch at school with her friends. I’m, of course. worried that she won’t have friends, or someone will be mean to her and I won’t be there to talk her through it. I am not a worrier by nature. I don’t often cry. But this one really hit me. Kindergarten didn’t…but first grade has.

I have about two weeks to go treasure these moments…and I intend to do just that.

An Honest Mother’s Day

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It’s Mother’s Day. That day that honors mothers and the work we do. I love the idea. Motherhood is the most talked about calling. I can find hundreds of blogs, memes, internet threads, articles, trending hashtags, and any other media bit about motherhood. Yet it is also the most controversial.

I was pondering this today. I’ve read blog posts comforting mothers. Telling us it’s okay that we don’t have it all together. I’ve read posts commending mothers who haven’t caved to consumerism and instead stick to old fashioned ideals. I’ve even seen posts stating they refuse to celebrate Mother’s Day because mothers should be celebrated every day. Everyone looking to cleverly offer a new perspective on motherhood.

I am not that clever. Unlike Matt Walsh’s mom, I did take my kids to Disneyland. I do let my kids watch movies. I’m not perfect. I also wish I had clever words of comfort on this day of all days for all us hardworking mommas. For those of us who feel like we fail each day to be that perfect mommy we see plastered on our Facebook walls. But I have none.

All I have is a life lesson. I used to get my hopes up when Mother’s Day would approach. This day is MY day. It will be a day I get to do what I want and relax for a change. Each year would leave me disappointed. My husband didn’t do enough. My kids were naughty. Angels didn’t follow me singing a chorus of alleluia behind me. But I eventually learned that Mother’s Day works much better if I approach it the way I have learned to approach life. Prepare for (and then promptly discard) the disasters and enjoy the successes. Don’t know what I mean? Let me give you some examples:
I woke up at 5:45 am to get the grocery shopping done since our bare essentials were now non existent and I would have to resort to eating hamburger helper…without hamburger…and juice with a suspicious expiration date. Not exactly pampering. So I discard that…and remember that I also woke up to several notes taped all over the house:

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I also got to walk out to the car and get into it without negotiating three peace treaties and a cease fire…and I drove to the store without listening to Let it Go, the most ironically named song I’ve heard. Definitely something to enjoy.

Of course King Toot proceeded to smack me on the face when he was angry today…twice. The kids spent at least 90% of the morning shrieking, yelling, and tattling. I cried. Also, several preschool workers were unable to do nursery this morning so I spent much of the morning scrambling to get the nursery classes covered. I’ve discarded those moments…in favor of the moments where several people stepped up to help. I even got to attend service instead of working in the nursery myself.

My husband had to work on Mother’s Day so I have spent most of the day without him. But I choose to instead enjoy the fact that my sister, who has lived half a country away from me for several years, moved back to my city this week and we spent the afternoon together. Our kids played well together and it was a fun and (mostly) relaxing afternoon of conversation with my life-long best friend.

So yes, parts of the day sucked. There were some tears. There were moments where I felt I had failed. But there were beautiful moments filled with family and friends and selfless love. So I guess today is a pretty good representation of motherhood in general. There are moments of beauty. There are moments where you soar and you finally feel like maybe you’ve got it figured out. But there are also moments of failure and compromise. Those moments where you just hope to make it to the end of the day in one piece. We just need to choose where to focus. It’s Mother’s Day so I will focus on the positive…today and everyday.

Now excuse me, I must go feed my children cold cereal from a box while watching a movie because…Mother’s Day.

Some selfies with those little people who made me “Mom”

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Sasquatch…now six years old!

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My four year old Urpling

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The youngest little trouble maker…the two year old King Toot…

Betterness Part 3: Health

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I’ll be honest here. I am not an expert in any of these areas. My dad is a doctor. My mom is a food scientist. But, unfortunately, their knowledge was not passed along to me by genetics, osmosis, or anything else. I have picked up bits and pieces from their conversations with each other…but even the vocabulary is up here *gestures with hand a foot above my head* and my understanding of what their saying is down here *lays on the floor wishing I had a basement to better illustrate the lowliness of my actual knowledge in this area*. That being said…I have been gifted with some semblance of common sense, experiences at various levels of “health”, and the random bits and pieces I’ve read along the way. So I want to impart what I’ve managed to make sense of.

Health is impossible to define. I’ve heard some people rant about needing to lose weight and others rant about how we shouldn’t strive to be so skinny. I’ve heard about the evils of eggs and the glories of eggs. The food pyramid is touted as the second coming of Jesus by some and the arrival of the antichrist by others. So it leaves most of us average joes floundering around trying to figure out what in the name of heaven above we should be doing/eating/avoiding. So here was the best thing I did. I chucked all of it out the window. Life has taught me that I’m a skeptical and cynical person. I, out of a combination of sheer mule-like stubbornness and a healthy skepticism, avoid fad diets. If you tell me you lost 13 pounds in a week, I’ll call it a pile of something stinky and back away slowly. Plus, I chucked the notion that I needed to be focused solely on losing weight. There was a scientist who decided to try losing weight through calorie deficit alone. He ate McDonalds, hostess snacks, Mac and cheese, etc but only ate about 1700-1800 calories every day. He lost weight, his cholesterol went down as did his fat percentage (you can read more about this here). But was he healthy? I would venture to guess he probably wasn’t.

After several years of working to lose weight, I finally decided health was an overall quality of life that should include activity level, eating well, and a good mental state. But even more than what I eat, I’ve noticed what I do affects everything else. When I keep a good workout routine, I feel better. I feel accomplished, happy, and thin. Nothing else needs to change, even my weight, to create this change in mood. This also means I eat better. I no longer need comfort foods to comfort me. Do I still enjoy them. Ummmm….yeah. Double yeah. Triple dog yeah. I LOVE food! But I no longer feel a NEED to eat junk. Which is a huge difference!
So, basically, I workout and it makes me feel better about myself. I feel better about myself and so I eat better. It works.

I’ve now spent just over 4 years slowly trying to improved my health. It is a journey that is far from over, and I am not to my goal yet. but I have picked up some little tricks along the way that I wanted to pass along:

count calories. I don’t think you need to weigh every last molecule. But it is amazing how knowledge is power! Knowing what it was that I put in my body helped me make better choices and weigh the consequences. There were all kinds of things I didn’t even really like but ate because they were there. But once I knew how much that was adding up, I was able to cut out the things I didn’t even like, and still enjoy the treats I did like.
get workout stuff ready the night before. It’s hard to get yourself up and doing something that (especially at first) can be unpleasant. But I found if I had already spent the 15 minutes assembling clothes, getting bottles filled, packing gym bags, etc. that it gave me the extra push out the door. I didn’t want that time and planning to be wasted.
– speaking of planning, plan out your meals for the week, and when you will be going shopping. If I have a game plan and already have the ingredients purchased, I avoid the whole, “Crap! It’s 5:00 and we only have crackers and old celery in the house and we have to be to our scheduled activity at 6:30! Guess it’s McDonald’s again…” situation.
get a good iPodish device and make a playlist for working out. Music makes the workout for me. It doesn’t even have to be rocking and loud. But it puts me in my own happy place where no children are screaming for me.
– Speaking of screaming kids, join a gym where they watch your kids. Want motivation to work out? How about people taking three small kiddos off your hands for an hour or two? Now THAT is motivation!
try new things, and often! I’m on a break from my triathlon training. So I’ve tried a spin class, Pilates class, and a Zumba class. I’ve loved them! Don’t be afraid to try new things or look dumb. These trainers are just happy to have people show up to their class! They could care less what you look like. (Also, who cares what you look like at the gym? Anyone who does is a class A douche who is only there to strut around flexing in mirrors…and trust me, everyone else there dislikes them as much as you).
do what feels right. When it comes to eating and working out, trust what works. If you cut out gluten and feel a million times better, then go for it. If you discover that it doesn’t work and you secretly binge eat because you miss all your yummy bread…then it might not be the best route for you. Try something else.

Getting healthy is a lot like parenting: everyone has an opinion, if you wait long enough someone will tell you the opposite of what you just heard, and you will feel like you’re doing it wrong if you focus on doing it “right”. Instead, just try things, see what works, and then smile and nod at any advice given after that and keep doing what you were doing. But as long as you stick with it, good things will happen!