Sunday, September 28, 2014

No Way...

I don't normally capture video of happenings in our life because I want to be able to fully enjoy them live and in person myself, but I felt like this moment might be one other family and friends who were not with us yesterday would enjoy sharing from afar.



Happy birthday sweet girl. Love you lots!

~ peace ~

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Forever in no time at all...

As of today we officially have a teenager living in our house. It's hard for me to wrap my brain around that fact. How can it be that 13 years have passed since Lexi joined our family? At the same time, I can hardly remember what life was like before she made me a mom.
 

I'm spending the first part of today much like I did the day of her birth; waiting for her arrival so I can spend the rest of the day loving on her in celebration; only today she is off playing student assistant to the JV volleyball coach (her father) at a Saturday tournament, rather than stubbornly refusing to exit my the warmth and comfort of my womb. Dinner will be gone out for. A college volleyball game will be attended. A gift, a kind-of-a-big-deal-gift she is sure to freak out over will be opened. I'm gonna try to keep my shit together through it all and not shed the sentimental tears that are knocking at my eyes' door as I type this.

In early August, before the craziness of the new school year began, I sat down and typed the letter below to my beautiful first born. Preparing for her to enter 7th grade, even though it's her second year of middle school, felt like such a major step. It seems I turn to words at those times in our lives, and with so much I want to share with Lexi about this time in her life, my fears and joys for her, I once again turned to my old friends words. Words I had originally planned to share with only her, but as I hope this blog serves as the story of our lives, the record of thoughts and feelings and events that I hope our girls will be able to cherish well into their aged adult years, and knowing how easily a printed letter can be misplaced, I decided to share my words meant for Lexi here in my spot. It seems appropriate on this day as we celebrate the lovely, creative, caring, gentle soul that shines so much light and love on our lives.

Today and always, dear sweet girl, I love you!

~ peace

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

To my dearest daughter, Lexi,

It’s hard for me to wrap my head around the fact you will soon be starting 7th grade, and celebrating your first birthday that has the word “teen” embedded in the age. So often I think I’ve not been a mother long enough to have a teenaged child. At the same time I can not even slightly remember what my life was like before I was your mom. Mom is the most favorite job I’ve ever had, even more than teaching yoga. :)

Some women talk about how nervous they were to bring home and care for their little newborn baby. Taking care of you during your baby days, and toddler years, and even into elementary school never worried me. Trusting my instincts as a mom when you were little was easy. I knew that I could provide for you, comfort you, care for you, and protect you. As you enter your teen years, become more independent, more capable of making decisions on your own, more involved in activities that do not require my presence, I worry that I’m no longer as able to comfort and protect you as adequately as my heart desires. That scares me. As your mother, I want nothing more than for you to always be happy and safe.

My goal in writing you this note today is twofold. First, I’d like to ask for your patience as we venture into your teen years. While I have been a teen myself, this is my first time being the parent of a teen. Everything that feels new, exciting, confusing, and scary to you, it all feels pretty new, exciting, confusing, and scary to me as well. I will be honest with you, I did not like my life experiences in middle school. High school was a little better, but still not the happiest time of my life. I’d be happy to talk to you about that time in my life if you’d like, but won’t bore you with the details here. I feel it’s fair to let you know that I struggled through middle school, because as much as I try not to base my parenting decisions for YOU as your parent on MY previous experiences, I know it can sometimes color how I handle things. I, like you, am learning through this time of your life. Learning when to hold you close and guide your decisions, and learning when to give you some freedom to make your own decisions, to experience your own successes and failures, which are both important for living a long, happy, fulfilling life in the years to come. Letting you go and giving you more freedom is the hardest part for me. I want to hold you close and keep you safe forever...but I know I can’t. I can only continue to guide and hope that the lessons we have taught you thus far will help steer you well in the years to come.

Secondly I want you to know you are not alone. The teen years, and even into your 20s and 30s honestly, can be pretty confusing years of life. I think the teen years feel the most intense because you AND all your friends are going through the confusion together, all at the same time. Remember that your dad and I, and other adults in your life, have all lived through those years too. We all had some struggles, but we all made it through. I’m confident you will too. Some struggles of teen life will never change.

  • There will always be mean girls who say and do things that put others down because it’s how they best deal with their own feelings of insecurity about not knowing how to deal with all the physical and emotional changes they are experiencing. Forgive them. It helps.
  • There will always be boys who make rude, off color comments about girls because they don’t know how to deal with their new feelings for girls, and, sadly, many boys have grown up watching the men in their lives treat women not as strong, capable individuals, but as sex symbols OR someone who they can control through the granting of their affections. Sometimes those type of boys never change. Thankfully there’s good ones too, like your dad. Fill your life with those type of boys. Just ignore the others. You can’t change them.
  • There are always going to be TV ads, magazine ads, online articles, comments, etc that make you feel insecure about your body. I’ll be blunt...it’s a bunch of shit. Our society has a very unhealthy view on what makes someone beautiful and worthy of a happy life. I have tried very hard to be an example that a strong, beautiful, healthy body can come in a variety of sizes, but I too struggle with my body image and accepting my own body as beautiful. Sadly as hard as I try to protect you from the pressures put on girls when it comes to loving your body, I know I can’t keep you in a cave forever, so instead I just want you to know your body IS beautiful and my hope is that you will continue to make healthy choices to help you do all the great things you’ll do in life with that body. Sports. Music. Animal care. They all require a strong, well fuelled, healthy body. Frankly, being a girl, especially a strong girl with your own thoughts and opinions, can be hard. Our society doesn’t always value the female gender beyond the beauty expressed through our physical body. Thankfully there are lots of amazing women out there that are working hard to make this world a better place for girls and women who know we are SOOOO much more than just a pretty face.
  • There are always going to be dark facts of life from which I WANT to protect you, but that I ultimately know I’ll just have to trust you have the strength to turn away from. Drugs. Alcohol. Smoking. Eating disorders. Unhealthy sexual habits. Oh how I worry about these things. Please, please, please, know you can ALWAYS come and talk to me about any of these things, or anything else you need to talk about. I am always here to listen. Always here to give guidance. Always here to get you help if you need. Always here to love you no matter what!

The life of a teen has also changed a lot since I was your age. I didn’t have to deal with all the technology options you have available to you, options that while providing extra ways for you to communicate with your friends and experience the world, they can also take your time and attention away from the wonderful world of experiences and relationships that happen outside of that 2x3 inch screen you carry around in your pocket. Life, and the amazing things it has to offer, is big. Why limit your experiencing of it to a tiny little device? I too struggle with trying to make sure I am balancing my time spent using technology and disconnected, so I know how hard it is to know how much is too much, especially when it seems others around us are so much more connected throughout the day. I don’t feel healthy, or happy, when I’m too plugged in, so I try to use that as a guide. I only ask that you are thoughtful about your time spent plugged in, and make sure your spending plenty of time plugged into the bigger world, the people, and the amazing life that’s always around you!

More than anything, I want you to know, that as you enter these confusing, exciting, scary days of being teenager, you are LOVED. Loved so strongly sometimes my heart wants to explode with affection for the amazing person you are growing up, a little too fast, to become in life. I will always be here for you. You can  always come and talk to me. Share your joys with me. Share your worries with me. Cry. Smile. Laugh. Whatever you need, I’m here for you.

I love you Lexi. Never, ever, EVER forget that!

Love always, Mom

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The truth is...

The truth is my life, our life, the life I am blessed to live, can be totally overwhelming at times. The busy shuffling of schedules. Jobs...lost, changed, shifted. The scrambling to keep some sense of domestic order in our house full of busy kids and furry animals. A house that could use a little more than a little DIY-TLC. The ever changing dynamic of relationships: friends, family, partners. The parenting of a middle school girl. Oh, the parenting of a middle school girl! The searching for a niche. My niche. The right niche. A long, long, LONG cold winter. The all too fast passing of summer following that long, long, LONG cold winter. The arrival of the middle ages of life. It's all enough, at times, to make my head explode.

The truth is that even if more yoga and meditation; less weight on my aging body; more work to accept my body as it is; more meaningful, purposeful social interactions; less busy schedules; and a continued practice of gratitude for all the blessings of life could EVENTUALLY help, those changes take time.

The truth is it's hard to find the time and energy to do all, or any, of the things that could help change my ability to more positively cope with the overwhelming feeling that life sometimes leaves me feeling when I'm feeling overwhelmed by life. There are times in life when it's okay, in fact it's really the best, to admit you can't do it all on your own. That you're not actually coping as well as what you'd like everyone to think you are coping. It's okay to let others in on the secret you've been carrying around while you've tried not to let your crazy out. It's okay to honor your sometimes messy, sometimes overwhelming life, AND your right to be happier living that life.

The truth is it is not easy as someone who has grown up learning through the actions of others that toughing it out is what "we" do. That openly admitting I'm not handling things very well could be a sign of being weak, or overly needy. That by openly discussing my struggles is somehow breaking some unwritten, unspoken code of keeping one's problems quietly tucked away in the closet because "what would the neighbors think?"

The truth is I had to just STOP, get out of my head, admit that a slowly disintegrating marriage, an almost constant feeling of inadequacy across several areas of life, and days upon days spent silently on the verge of tears for no explainable reason were largely a result of my stubborn inability to admit that I currently need some help regaining a better perspective on where I am in life. Hard as it may have been, I nervously started the conversation. Before help can be given there has to be a conversation started. Slowly the conversation has grown as I have opened up and help has been offered.

The truth is sometimes you need a little something more than just an attitude adjustment to get back on track. As the end of summer neared, and as I realized the sadness that had been renting out a room in my heart had not been burned away by the warm golden rays and carefree days of summer like I had hoped it would be, I knew I could not afford to head into another fall/winter season without something more than a perkier outlook. Turns out, after consulting with my personal physician who did some blood work, I'm a bit low on a key nutrient that is a big factor in mood maintenance. And realistically trying to "tough it out" for longer than I probably should have, more likely than not, has a few other hormonal systems a little off balance as well. Prescriptions were written. Supplements were ordered. A follow-up plan has been put into place.

The truth is I cried when I called my husband to tell him the blood results and the treatment plan. I cried as I texted a very dear friend who knows all too well the ups and downs of dealing with hormone systems that can get a little out of balance. I avoided going to get my new Rx for 2 days because I didn't want to be part of that all too common statistic of married, middle aged moms who account for the largest demographic of anti-depressant, anti-anxiety prescription drug consumers. I still wanted to believe just knowing, plus some vitamins, a little more exercise, and a really, really focused effort to just get happier would fix me.

The truth is my husband has not tried to fix me, even if secretly I kinda hoped he would try to do even if it's not really what I need from him. He has listened and supported and loved me, which is exactly what I need the most. That friend, that friend passionately and reassuringly has shared her own experiences and her support and her love. And my kids, both the human ones and the canine ones, have stayed steady by my side, giving me a clear vision of purpose and of the great love that exists in my daily life.

The truth is today I can write about this struggle, this journey, because I feel the grey cloud that has been part of my inner life for longer than I'd like to admit starting to lift. I do not feel any less. I do not feel broken. I do not feel crazy, at least not beyond the little bit of crazy that makes life a little more fun to live.

The truth is what I am starting to feel is a brighter perspective on my life. I'm starting to feel a little less alone with my inner thoughts, a little less lonely even though I am often rarely physically alone. I'm starting to feel a little more like random kitchen dance parties, once a frequent occurrence that have been MIA over the past year, may once again find their way back into our home. I'm starting to feel a lightness and a peace in my inner self that has been hard to find over the past several years. I'm starting to feel hopeful. I'm starting to feel my inner strength starting to grow from that place deep inside where I know it still lives. I'm starting to feel more myself.


The truth is I needed to ask for help to find my way out of the shadows, and I'm so, so, SO glad I did. I really like the warmth that comes with living a brighter life.


peace

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Last Day of Summer...

It's the morning alarms.

It's the hours of whirlwind crazy spent each day, and the mental energy required to do my best for the kids, to work in an educational system that I'm not sure I fully support...or feel fully supported in as someone serving in a teaching role, without a teaching certification.

It's the schedule. The schedule that, especially during the fall, has our family's days full of places to be and activities to be done from the the time that morning alarm goes off, until our tired heads hit the pillow at night. Time spent running and doing, supporting the activities and interests of my family, that leave me feeling spread too thin. Too thin to feel that I'm fully taking care of their most basic needs. Our household. Our relationships with each other. My own health and wellness needs.

"Don't wish these days away," they say. "They go so fast," they say. I do NOT wish them away. They ARE going too fast. I just need more time. Less alarms. More time.

"It's the dues you pay as a mom," my own mom told me as I was sharing my feeling about the ending of summer. "You do what you have to do and you make it through," she told me. Yes, yes I do. Those morning alarms, they remind me each day that it's time to get up and do what I need to do to get through. I will. I do.

Some might call this whiny. Some might roll their eyes and tell me to get a grip. Some might think I'm a lazy bum. That is their opinion from their perspective. This is not about them. This is about me. This has nothing to do with laziness. It has everything to do with trying to protect my own peace of mind and joyful heart.

I'm not okay with today being the last day of summer. The last day of calm before the storm. The last day of coffee in my PJs and lunch out with my girls at a time that may or may not be considered lunch time. The last day of an (almost) empty to do list. The last day where we have plenty of time...that rare and precious commodity.

I'm not okay with today being the last day of summer. That's the raw and honest truth weighing on my heart this morning.

I'm not okay with it, but I will be okay.

That fact I also know to be true.

Goodbye summer. 2014, you've been a good one.


peace


Friday, August 8, 2014

Making Memories...

Yesterday Scott took the day off from work so we could spend 1 last day of summer having fun as a family at Adventureland.



It rained, most of the day, and ended up never getting warmer than 70 degrees, but that didn't stop us from riding, and re-riding, rides for over 7 hours. In fact I've only been to an amusement park 1 other time when lines at rides were a total non-issue as we experienced yesterday. When Scott and I first moved to KC we spent a day at Worlds of Fun...in the rain....with no lines. I'm thinking rainy days are the way to go. Once you experience a no line day at the amusement park, it kinda spoils you for any other type of day.

Admittedly, we went to the park yesterday a little under prepared. Since the forecast was for scattered showered and highs in the mid-70s, we dressed in quick dry summery clothing and packed our swim bag in hopes of spending the afternoon in the water park. After walking to the front gates of the park from our car, our first stop in the park ended up being the clothing store for long sleeves for the girls. It was one of the best decisions that I think had a big impact on the general success of our day. By day's end, after a lap full of COLD water, thanks to the log ride (poor Brea got a face full, so I shouldn't complain), and half an hour spent in the car with the heat on to warm-up and dry off, I too visited the clothing store for longer sleeves.

Side note: We were actually pleasantly surprised at the price of merchandise and food once we were in the park. Expecting crazy inflated prices much like one pays at the ball park or movie theater, we were surprised to find rather reasonable prices on the few things we did purchase.

It became pretty apparent early on during our day just how small, safe, and quiet we have lived our lives since having kids. Brea is not one for loud noises and unexpected scares, as we experienced on our first ride as a family, the Underground. Lexi on the other hand is not a fan of any thing that suddenly, or repeatedly, requires you to change directions, which basically includes every "thrill" ride. As parents we were totally charting new territory. Not being big fair going, carnival rides riding people, and not previously having taken the girls to an amusement park because of the cost (outside of the 1 time Lexi went at aged 4 when she only rode the kiddie rides), we weren't sure how to introduce our girls to the big rides beyond just talking them into going on them. So of course we decided the best route of introduction was to go from the Frog Hopper (kiddie ride for Brea), to the Underground (story based enclosed "mine shaft" coaster ride), right to the Space Shot. The line was short. We could all 4 sit togeher. Why wouldn't it be a good choice?

Let me share with you how to go from feeling like a pretty good mom, to the world's worst mom in a matter of 3 seconds. Sit between your 2 children, children who totally trust you to keep them safe, children who you have talked into riding an amusement park ride because "would I let them do anything that was not safe?", while they are suddenly shot into the air at a high velocity. To my left sat my 8-year-old screaming and crying uncontrollably, obviously freaked out of her mind with terror. To my right sat my 12-year-old whose face had turned as white as the cloud covered sky above us, eyes the size of dinner plates, telling me she was gonna throw-up, gonna throw-up, GONNA THROW-UP! (She did not. Thankfully.) And because having this experience once wasn't enough to test my fragile maternal heart, we talked them into strapping into the "calmest" of the 3 big roller coasters, the Tornado, because "it's just like riding in a car that's going up and down big hills really fast." Right?

Before I go any further, let me tell you about my own amusement park experiences. I did not grow up in an amusement park visiting, carnival ride riding family. Looking back from the perspective of adulthood I realize it was more likely than not because we could not afford such experiences. I vaguely remember that we might have visited Elitch Gardens in Denver when I was very young. I don't actually remember riding any rides, although I have this random memory of a dragon shaped small kiddie roller coaster, so I'm not sure if it's an actual memory or simply one my mind has created because it was the only amusement park I was aware of as a kid. Other than random carnival rides rode occasionally during my teen years, my first amusement park experience was a visit to Adventureland with Scott and some of his family the summer after I graduated high school. It was on that trip I discovered I love roller coasters. I mean I really LOVE them. (Which I should have guessed after discovering how much I love to fly after going stunt flying with a classmate's father earlier that same year.) I also discovered I'm not a big fan of spinny rides. Big spins are okay. Tight spins, not so much. So while my own amusement park experiences have been limited to just a few visits to 2 different mid-western parks, I have hopes to someday venture out of the mid-west to ride many, many more roller coasters.

If it weren't for my much calmer husband who was determined to spend this day that he had specifically taken off to spend with his family at the amusement park, and the $140 we'd spent on tickets, I would have wrapped my girls up the moment we got off that first roller coaster ride, repeatedly apologizing profusely, and taken them home to snuggle on the quiet safety of our couch. As it turns out, I'm glad I did not get to give in to that instinct. We dried the tears, visited a few low key rides, enjoyed a bag of warm, delicious cinnamon sugar mini donuts, and ended up having a great day. Other than that aforementioned cold, wet log ride experience, that again ended in tears for Brea (more out of frustration and surprise than fear), we ended the day with many fun memories that I'm sure we'll be talking about for years to come. Brea decided roller coasters are actually pretty fun and ended the day with 3 rides under her belt. She also made us go back to the Scrambler time and time again, during which she laughed and laughed, hands held high in the air. Lexi drives a mean bumper car and, after lots of re-assurance and begging, found out that maybe I DID know what I was talking about when I told her she would love the feeling of quiet flying you get while riding the new 260 foot giant "swing" called the Storm Chaser. We left at day's end tired, hungry, happy, and already talking about what rides will be our first during our next visit.

Scott had to return to work today. The girls and I have some errands to run to get ready for my return to work and the start of Brea's soccer season next week. Our house could also, as always, use a little cleaning. Having slept right through Scott's departure for work this morning, I sent him a text to see how he was feeling today, waking up with only minimal neck soreness myself after getting a bit beaten around on the looping roller coaster, the Dragon, yesterday. He wrote back that he was doing okay, minimally sore and already looking forward to day's end, but glad that everyone seemed to have a fun day yesterday. "Odd to think, but I just want the girls to have FUN memories!" he shared. I replied that I too hope for the girls to have plenty of fun memories of their childhood to carry with them through life, but most of all I want them to remember lots of moments of LOVE.

I think yesterday we helped create both FUN and LOVE filled memories....through the tears...in the rain. I know I will for always remember it as a pretty great day.


peace