Thursday, June 30, 2011

Joy and Hope

I know that I’ve been going on and on about how fun summer has been so far, like how I have been serving goldfish crackers and apple juice on the lido deck and going to the pool and the park and whatever else we can cram in a summer day.
And that is all true, but I have to say that there is this app running in the background, draining my batteries. It’s something I’ll probably struggle with forever. And that, my friends, is creating and maintaining personal boundaries. (I would say *maintaining* is the key word, no?)  I have talked about it here, here, here, and here to name just a few.

I guess any true and lasting change takes time. I can’t rewire my brain in the course of six months or a year or even two. It takes diligence and discipline.

I find that my regression happens around certain people and events. It’s like I’m clicking along on the self-respect train, doing alright, and then a roadblock suddenly sneaks up and tries to derail all the work that I have done. And as Sir Topham Hatt would say, “You are causing confusion and delay.”

What can I say? Bad habits are hard to break.

But sometimes, in the midst of slow progress, moments of light and love shine through, moments that I would not otherwise have the joy of experiencing if I hadn’t redirected my intentions. In these moments I realize that my hard work is worth it, that I have made real progress, and that I do have the power to make healthy changes in my life.

I recently read an article in a magazine that talked about energy and how a person only possess so much of it; therefore, it’s imperative to practice caution where the energy is spent.

If I stop dwelling on the negative and trying to make situations into something they are not and never will be, there’s room for genuine happiness and joy.

It seems easy enough, right?

Maintaining boundaries is something I will be working on for a very long time and I will have bad days, but when I experience these moments, I am filled with not only joy, but hope.

Joy and hope. . . not a bad way to start off the holiday weekend.

Have a great weekend, everyone!!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Welcome Aboard the SS Summer Fun Cruise Ship!

Years and years ago, I went on my first and only (as of yet) cruise. It was the glorious Jubilee from Carnival (and by glorious, I mean it *was* glorious . . . circa 1987).

It was also pretty much free since Harrington won it. And “pretty much free” does not include drinks. Just a little FYI.

Anyway –

The great thing about a cruise is that everything is planned for you, and you don’t have to worry about driving. Especially after you’ve been drinking margaritas since 9:30 a.m. on a beach in Cozumel and snacking on taquitos all while singing yelling Rolling Stones “Honkey Tonk Woman” that was blaring from that little boat docked near the beach. All while on video.

Other highlights of the cruise included but were not limited to the following:

  • Free range of the soft serve ice cream station (ahh, just like the good ol’ college cafeteria days)

  • Yummy rum drinks and buckets of beer

  • Towels fashioned into little animals

The cruise director was always telling us what to do at the ports (like drink margaritas and eat copious amounts of fried Mexican food). During these daily briefs, he would also tell us what fun stuff there was to do at night on the ship like a dance party, a magic show, dinner. The list was endless.

Some days were designated “Fun Days at Sea.” On these days, there was nothing organized, but lots of options like the pool, gambling, and ordering buckets of beer. It was up to you to entertain yourself on this floating party bus.

During week two of summer vacation, I realized that my life is strangely similar to life on a cruise ship.

Except I am the cruise director and The Babes are the passengers.

I have arranged Fun Fridays in which we go the park, out for lunch, the pool, and swim lessons.

On Mondays, there is story time.

Marie will be partaking in cooking and karate camps.

There are play dates galore.

A trip to the zoo is in the making.

Family time spent at my aunt and uncle’s cottage by the lake.

Pretty soon I will be making announcements such as, “Now serving goldfish crackers and juice on the Lido Deck” and “Be sure to join us for dinner at 5:30 in which your server (also the cruise director) will be serving spaghetti and meatballs. Pants optional.”

Why do I feel compelled to do this to myself? Because I live in Michigan. Nine months out of the year are either too hot or too cold to do anything but stay inside. I feel like I need to capitalize on EVERY. SINGLE. SEMI-GORGEOUS DAY.

Plus, it’s nice to be the fun parent. You know, the one who gets to do fun things that don’t involve dropping off and picking up from school, cleaning, making meals (which should give you a clear indication that my house is looking as super gross and that I now accept sandwiches as an acceptable dinner). As Clare said in Modern Family, “I'm making my kids love me!”  Who cares for now! I can now be associated with Fun Things like Playing and The Park and The Pool!

Finally, right?!

But seriously, I think that I need to plan some more Fun Days At Sea because this pace? As fun as it is, takes more energy than a single ice coffee can give me in an afternoon. 

It should also be noted that Clare also said, " can't have two fun parents... You know that kid Liam who wears pajama pants to school and pays for things with a hundred-dollar bill? Two fun parents."

So tell me, how’s your summer starting out?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Recently, I posted a question on Skinny Scoop to ask you how you recharge your batteries. Here’s the link to the survey, and here is the link to the post that inspired the question.

The number one way people recharge their batteries are by exercising and yoga. And not one person answered date night. Be sure to click here to get all of the results.

So here’s what I have to say about all that.

Ideally, I do try to exercise and practice yoga to stay fit and sane. But as the pace of Birthday Season picked up, that afternoon cup of coffee sounded sooooo good.

So then I would get all revved up and my mind was going a gazillion miles an hour. And you know what sounded good at the end of the day? A nice glass of wine.

Initially, it felt good. But before I knew it, that afternoon cup was a necessity, and I was really looking forward to that glass of wine. As more time went by, the more coffee/wine pattern was replacing the yoga and meditation practices. I started to feel unrested even though I was getting seven hours of sleep. I also just felt generally unwell. My eyes were always itchy and tired. My stomach felt tense and icky.

To me, it can be harder to take that moment to rest or meditate because I feel that I am hardwired to GO-GO-GO! It’s kind of like a pendulum: once I get on that fast-paced kick, it is hard to swing back the other way and relax.

It takes discipline to do what is truly recharging and not just a quick fix. It also takes discipline to figure out what truly recharges your own batteries. I remember when Marie was just a baby. Once she was down for a nap and I had the housework under control, I would just sit and watch TV. I *thought* I was recharging my batteries, but in reality, I wasn’t really resting. I was just tuning out.

And sometimes tuning out is OK, too. Balance is the key. Sometimes a glass of wine and some quality time with those crazy bitches from Real Housewives of New York (or Orange County) (or New Jersey) is just what I need. But more times than not, to truly recharge, I know I need to meditate and do some yoga.

So if I am going to survive another birthday season/holiday season, I am going to have to do a better job of making my wellness a priority.

Boundaries can be such a bitch to maintain and doing the right thing to make sure I am rested and well can take more energy than I have at that moment.

But it is worth it.


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Here’s to the Next Chapter – May the Light Always Shine Bright

Before I get going on this post, I wanted to share with you a link for the post I did at Band Back Together. I am very proud of this post, and this is a fantastic website. Please take some time to check it out.

Also, I will be writing a post on recharging batteries. This post includes a survey I created over at The Skinny Scoop. Please check it out. I would love your feedback.

Ok, now down to business.

In the past three weeks, The Babes have hit quite a few milestones over here. Thomas got his first official summer haircut. Last summer, I didn’t have to cut it so short because it wasn’t as thick. But I could see the sweat mixed with sunblock dripping from his forehead and knew I had to do it. I am very partial to the longer, messier look, but it’s hotter than hell out here, so what is one to do? Thankfully, my brother was able to cut it short without looking, well, how I can say this, boring bowl cut.

Pretty damn cute, if you ask me! 

It kind of broke my heart a bit because he looked so much older. And even though I usually am not the mournful type because leaving a phase (especially a baby phase) means something much more fun and exciting. But this time was different.

I think this might have something to do with it.

As you know, Marie turned five last month. Which was pretty big in and of itself. And then two weeks later, she *takes a deep breath* lost her first tooth. It went from kind of loose to totally ready to fall it so quickly. Next thing I know, Harrington gave it one little twisty-turn and out it came. She looked like a character from Twilight as the blood came spilling out all over her other teeth. Ick.

"Holy shit!  What just happened!
Why does Mommy look like she's going to pass out?
And that rumor about the Tooth Fairy bringin $5 for
the first tooth better be true."

I was totally not ready for that. Not just the blood, but how it changed her face. It also changed how she talked. It forced me to look at her differently. She’s not the little two year old we took to Myrtle Beach with her chubby legs and wispy hair, barely able to put into pigtails. She’s not even the three year old who was not so sure of the play structure at the park.

No, she’s a five year old, who is losing her baby teeth to make room for the *adult* teeth.

As if that wasn’t enough, she graduated from preschool this week. And in the fall she will be going to Kindergarten.

"Big crowds?  Lots of attention?
This is so not my scene.  So much so
I could care less about the chocolate fountain.
Get. Me. Out. Of. Here. Now."

I am not usually that mom that’s all sad about moving on to the next phase. I was relieved when I was done with nursing her after ten lllooooonnnngggg months (and was happy not to have wash bottles anymore for Thomas). I joyfully said good bye to diapers (which, please, Thomas, please let’s start giving this potty thing a *real* try). I was excited when she started preschool.

I was even OK with her giving up her naps because we had more flexibility to do more fun stuff, go on more adventures.

But there is something about starting Kindergarten that just yanks at my heart strings. Maybe I look at through this lens of my youth. I always felt that I didn’t quite fit in and had a hard time making friends. I fear for the bullying that is out of control.

I’m afraid that Marie will loose that light in her eyes. The one that shines from the inside out because she’s totally excited about life and not afraid to be herself. Before Hannah Montana and all the other bullshit shows out there that tell her what “cool” is.

This process of letting go is so very bittersweet. (And if you saw my status on Facebook or Twitter, it’s like 60% Ghirardelli Bittersweet Chocolate Chips . . . which has been my chosen method of self-soothing. Well, that and chocolate ice cream). (No judging . . . whatever works, right?) (Right?!)

As I said earlier, there will be new adventures to be had. I couldn’t have done Chicago and enjoyed all the sights we saw if Marie was still a baby. Some of my greatest childhood memories are going on similar trips and adventures. And I am looking forward to going on adventures with The Babes.

"I have found Heaven.  It's here in Chicago.
In the Ghirardelli Chocolate Shop. Mommy and Nana
are right.  Everything is better with ice cream."

One chapter is definitely closed.

A new one is definitely opened.

And no matter what, I will try to keep that light bright and shiny.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Can vs. Should

I have felt exhausted. I blame birthday season. What the numbers didn’t show was the mental toll it took on me, seeing as I downplayed all the drama. I just feel there was a lot of emotion attached to each event. Not to mention that Harrington was gone for a lot of the season.
I was feeling like I was *waiting* to see what everyone else’s schedule was so maybe, just maybe I could *squeeze* a little, itty bit of me time in. And sometimes that me time was an eye appointment.

And to make sure that I was getting everything done, I fell out of balance. I was drinking copious amounts of coffee and looking a bit too forward to wine at the end of the day. Everything got done, but it was at the expense of my health. I was having a hard time sleeping, and my stomach was always in knots. So I guess a lesson I learned with all this is this:

Just because I can, doesn’t mean I should.

Sure, I can plan a ton of events and do all the cleaning and do all the running around and do all the cooking and do all the cleaning and do all the laundry (and did I mention cleaning, because I feel that I went through gallons and gallons of Windex, bathroom cleaner, and dust spray). But in the end, I felt like I was hanging on by my fingernails. And I feel like I just need to respect the face that I am hardwired for stress and have a hard time decompressing.

To be honest, I didn’t realize how much of a toll this took on me until after a few weeks of not having to get emotionally ready for a party, just how light I felt. The Babes and I were outside enjoying the sunshine while I was planting our garden (another post, because this year, I went all out), and I felt much more relaxed. It was like I had more mental real estate space available to enjoy the moment instead of worrying about the next.

I realized that I had not been enjoying The Babes. I also did not have the energy to do the things that I enjoy. Gym time and yoga weren’t happening. I was disappointed by the quality of my posts. And I was resenting being last on the list while I squared everyone else away, hoping that there was a scrap of time for me.
I need to find my groove again and restore balance to my life.

(Also, I know I was away from blogging for too long when Skinny Scoop sent me an email wondering where I was).

So I thought this would be a great time to create a survey. How do you recharge your batteries? Clearly, what I was doing was not working. So please, take a second to answer the survey. I plan on writing a follow up post on this.

I am glad to be able to spend more time writing and connecting with you. Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!