Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Keepin' It Real

I just wanted to share this quick story with you for no other reason but to keep me honest.  I've promised myself that I'd share the good, bad and ugly with you so here you go...my least-proud moment as a parent thus far:

This evening before dinner I was out at the playground with the kids and Zoe was working on mastering the monkey bars.  She actually mastered them long ago, but once in a while she hits a bump in the road and convinces herself that she can't do it.  Sometimes I'm sympathetic but most of the time it (completely unfairly) annoys the crap out of me.  I don't know why it bothers me so much because all she needs from me is to stand next to her and hold onto her coat pocket until she swings her second hand to the second ring but every time she asks me to, I am embarrassingly impatient with her.  I know it's because I can't tell if she's playing me or not.  I know it's entirely possible that she's nervous but she seems like she's faking it most of the time and I can't help but wonder if she just wants my attention because in the moment I'm watching Owen closely or something.  Plus, the drop to the ground is not very far for her anymore and she's dropped and realized it doesn't hurt already, so I always feel like that fear shouldn't be there for her anymore.   I use a tone of voice that, even in the moment, I know is way too harsh and I always find myself hoping no one can overhear me because I know I'm being too hard on her.  I say things like "Zoe, I'm NOT helping you....You JUST did this all by yourself and the drop is NOT very far.....come on hurry UP, just DO it....I think you're just doing this for attention, so come ON."  In my better moments I talk with her about focusing on breathing, telling herself she's brave and strong and can do it...I've told her how she should just not think about it too much and picture her hand grabbing the ring and nothing else...usually, though I bully her into just giving up or I reluctantly hold her damn coat pocket in a really immature sulky kind of way, giving her a really bitchy "Good job but you know you don't need me to help you."  I'm not kidding and yes, I'm ashamed of myself. 

Never more than tonight though, when the situation escalated so far that at one point she said "Mommy, why are you being so mean?" and I found myself saying, as we headed for home "Zoe, I'm NOT doing those monkey bars anymore.  If you can't do it yourself, we're just not doing them anymore.".  She broke down into a puddle of honest tears saying "Okay, Mommy I'm sorry!" and I was immediately and completely remorseful.  I knelt down and hugged her as hard as I could and apologized over and over as she sobbed and sobbed.  When she finally calmed down a bit, she very maturely told me why she is afraid and it totally made sense.  I apologized again and asked if she wanted to give it one more try her way...she cheered right up and we bounded over to the monkey bars one last time.  After we did it her way, I asked if she wanted to try it one more time without my help and she did just that, no problem.  On our walk home, I told her I was sorry I'd made her so sad and she said "It's okay, Mommy"..I told her it wasn't really okay but that I appreciated her saying that. After her recap of the situation, in which she described my reaction to her crying as "when your voice went back to normal" (eek) she said "Mommy, I'm sorry I cried like that." and I just wanted to give her a million hugs right then and there.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Catch up

As I continue to tiptoe out of the abyss, I realize that although I've changed a couple of things (ie: I'm working out again, which I won't officially go into yet because I jinx myself every time I do that on here...I will give a huge shout-out to my sister Rachel and her Crossfit workout suggestions, though--thanks Rach!!), my every day life really isn't that different.  Funny how that is true but that I can also be feeling so much better!  I credit myself first because shouldn't we all do that more often, honestly?  It's hard to find the strength to pull your feet out of that sticky mud and start walking again and I'm proud of myself for doing that instead of sitting my butt down and getting even more stuck.  I'm also grateful for all of you who had so many supportive and sympathetic things to say.  Although I always know deep down that I'm nowhere near the only one who feels the way I get to feeling at my worst, it's easy to convince myself otherwise when I bottle it all up...ever since writing about it all a couple of weeks ago, it's been so much easier for me to focus on all of the positive things going on...so anyway, THANK YOU THANK YOU!  XOXO

One of the things that hasn't changed, but in staying the same has actually become a source of happiness lately, is what Zoe and I are doing with our time together during Owen's naps.  I had been down on myself because I haven't been motivated to plan projects for us.  I love doing cool stuff with her and then sharing it with you guys but we seem to be experiencing a lull here and I was blaming myself.  I realized though that although it does partly have to do with lack of motivation, it's also that she is in a phase where her interests are changing...she seems so much older all of the sudden..the way she plays and the way we relate to each other are shifting.  I think part of me wants to just focus on that...I want to make sure we take our time for a little while and get to know each other in this particular season of our lives.  I don't want to just keep my head down and keep doing the same thing all of the time because I'm afraid I'll miss something.  Not that we can't do all of that while doing cool projects together, but she and I really only have a couple of pockets of time during the day together.  We have a great time with our smiley, fun loving, little Owen but my attention is pretty scattered when he's awake and she goes to school 4 afternoons a week so those times when Owen is asleep and she and I are both home, we've lately felt like either doing chores together (it's crazy how much she enjoys helping around the house and how GOOD she's getting at all of it), reading or quietly playing Sorry or something.  I'm embracing this phase for what we are both getting out of it because I know that soon things will change again.  Soon it will be summer and we will have more time together...soon Owen will sleep less and become more capable of participating in stuff instead of demolishing whatever we're working on (well, I guess it could be a while for that one but you know what I mean)....everything is changing all of the time and I finally feel like I'm learning to go with it instead of drown in it.

Anyway, I did want to share these few fun things we've done over the last month or so...

Homemade Superballs! 
I found this on Pinterest a while ago and we made them at least a month ago...I don't even remember when, it's been so long!  I guess I didn't put it on here because it wasn't as successful as I'd hoped it would be but it was pretty fun and interesting, especially for a non-science-minded adult like me and a 4 year old.  

Materials

Mixing glue and food coloring (Zoe's)

Mine

Mixing Borax, cornstarch and water

Combining the two mixtures.  Ewwww weird!!!

Making it into a ball

For some reason mine just wouldn't stick together in a ball shape.  I'm sure it had something to do with how long I mixed the Borax mixture or the temperature of the water or something but honestly I have no clue what happened...like I said, it was still fun even though I didn't end up with a bouncy ball!

Zoe's was perfect though!  It wasn't all that bouncy but she loved tossing it around for a while and she eventually had fun ripping it apart.

Glow Stick Bath Time!
I feel quite sure I didn't come up with this...I probably saw it on Pinterest at some point but even if I did think of it on my own, I know I wouldn't be the first person to have done it so...anyway, forgive the missing link....

It's as simple as going to the dollar store to get glow sticks, filling the bathtub, putting the kids in the tub with the illuminated glow sticks and turning off the lights.  The fun didn't last as long as I thought it was going to because they LOVED IT, but hey--the experience cost me $1 so who cares?



Zoe's New Dress!
I found a bunch of fun little girl patterns on Ravelry a while ago and let Zoe choose which one she wanted me to knit for her.  She chose this dress and I set about making it about....a month ago?  Again I have no clue...anyway, I finished it last night and she wore it happily all day today!  She kept saying "Mommy, I LOVE my dress!!" which helped me partially overlook the too-short sleeves.  Hooray!  I'm so thankful that my sister Emily taught me to knit so long ago and generously passed down part of her stash of needles she'd inherited from our grandmother....thanks Ess!!


Monday, February 20, 2012

Game Time!

I'm not sure how many of you know me well enough to have a sense of how happy this image makes me, but in case you don't, let me tell you:  This. Makes. Me. SO. Happy.  I LOVE playing games.  So many of my happy memories are linked with sitting around a table playing games...Dziadzu (my grandfather) teaching me how to shuffle a deck of cards the cool way and Babcia (my grandmother) teaching me how to play War....endless memories of sitting around the kitchen table playing game after game with my siblings during Christmas vacations.....playing quiet games of Pitch with high school/college buddies and showing off my amazing card tricks (I'm normally very sarcastic, but I really do have a couple of really cool card tricks up my sleeve)....more into-the-wee-hours-of the-morning card games than I can remember with Nathan and our good friend Shawn during our New York, pre-kid days....just for the hell of it, I'm going to test my brain and try and list as many games I can possibly remember having a blast playing...stream of consciousness here, so there are card games mixed up with board and dice games and I'm not going to try and organize them.  Any of you out there reading who have spent time around a table with me at any point over the years, please add to the list if you can:

Peanuts
Pitch
Hearts
Spit
War
Pictionary
Cranium
Bananas
Yahtzee
Dominos
Blokus
21 (not Blackjack)
Solitaire
The Clock Game
Cleveland Circle
Casino (Nathan and Shawn, please remind me how to play?!  Honestly, I know I ask every time we play but...I love it so much, I KNOW I do!)
Gin
Rummy 500
Asshole
Mad Gab
Mancala
Killer
Apples to Apples

I feel like there's so many more but that's all I can eek out of my rusty brain right now....

Anyway, I really miss those days of playing games.  Nathan and I don't play anymore since we don't spend our evenings drinking beer and staying up as late as possible.  I only get together with my family once in a great while and there's usually so much to do and so many small kids to take care of that we're all exhausted by the time the kids go to bed....

SO, imagine my total surprise and glee when I recently learned that Zoe can actually play a few of these games with me if I teach her!  Yes, she has to be in just the right mood and yes, sometimes I have to modify the rules just a bit, but still--it's more than I'd dreamed possible this early on (don't worry, I'm not planning on teaching her how to play Asshole.  I'll leave that to her first drinking buddies, assuming people will still be playing it by then).  These past couple of weeks we've played an almost daily game of Domino's (can't back it up!), War, Solitaire and The Clock Game and have gotten through a whole game of Yahtzee twice.  By the way, she BEAT ME BOTH TIMES....the scorecard above is hard to read but she wrote out all the  numbers herself and beat me by one point.  I gave her guidance but she made all of the decisions.  The first time, it was after she begged me to play for a good 5 minutes...I was resistant because I know how frustrated she gets when she doesn't understand something but I finally gave in reluctantly...by her second roll, she was saying "I'm goin' for my 5's!", on her fourth turn she got a Yahtzee with 6's and she beat me 234 to 187. 

So, maybe my game playing days will make a resurgence as the kids get older.  I hope they enjoy playing as much as I always have because I can't tell you how psyched I'd be to sit around the kitchen table and play a nice long game of Hearts with my husband and two awesome kids.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Ugh!

I wasn't going to do this, but I'm going to be totally open about the latest rut I've found myself in.  I always hesitate to do this on here because #1) I don't want to worry my family.  We are very far away from each other, and I don't want them to hear my woes and think they need to jump on the next plane to Colorado to hoist me up (on second thought, maybe that's not such a bad plan!), #2) I'm afraid I'm going to sound like a total loser.  I know a lot of people probably think blogging is really weird (I'm among them honestly) and I wonder if going on and on about stuff like this is going to make me seem totally pathetic, #3) I'm not sure if talking about it all will sound dramatic and disrespectful of people who have actual problems.  So, I've not felt like talking about it and instead I've spent the last few days vowing to detox myself from Facebook and never write another entry on here ever again.  The fact that it's been really hard to accomplish that has made me feel even more pathetic and I've been beating myself up for being addicted to technology.  It's also made me feel completely depressed because I'm bored so often that I hop on the computer any chance I get to gather all of the useless information I possibly can and post far too many status updates just to feel like I'm in touch with people.  This evening though, I finally decided to give myself a freaking break already.  I mean WHO CARES if I'm a total loser and WHO CARES if I'm bored and hop on the computer to find something funny, inspiring, interesting or entertaining and WHO CARES if I think something is hilarious/weird/amusing and want to see if anyone agrees and WHO CARES if I'm the type of person who wears her heart on her sleeve and feels better when she tells a million people how she is feeling...WHO CARES??  I'm happiest when I'm just going with the flow and not over-analyzing so today, right now I'm vowing to get back to that place.

I've been pretty up and down the last few weeks and my usual remedies for such moods have not seemed to do the trick.  Every time I think I've gotten myself back on track I find myself moping a morning away, surfing the internet for "signs of depression" and "mental health, counseling, Medicaid, Colorado".  Always by the time lunch and afternoon roll around I get some spring back in my step so I never worry for too long but lately, the very next morning...down I go again.  I feel 100% sure that Winter is the culprit because being inside for days at a time is a recipe for boredom for me (and many, I know).  I've been so bummed out and tired lately that I haven't had the energy/motivation to do the things that keep me happy and energetic (exercising and projects with Zoe mostly).  I've moped and moaned and found myself actually thinking "this place is fucking miserable" as I lay in bed at 4am this morning listening to Owen fussing in his crib, Zoe whining and kicking the closet door in her sleep while laying on her sleeping bag next to our bed and poor Nathan getting up and down painfully as a result of throwing out his back...No, I'm not exaggerating.  They were all happening in the exact same early, early morning moment.  Today was the day I looked up "signs of depression" and tearfully realized that, while I'm feeling pretty bad, I can honestly say I still feel like this is all in my control.  Many, many people suffer from depression and although I've wondered if I'm one of them more times in my life than I can remember, I am certain I'm not.  Always, ALWAYS I'm able to buck up and get back on track.  It's a simple matter of being determined to stop the self-pity and do what I know has to be done to be happy. 

Three of the things that jumped out at me today as I was reading "15 natural ways to deal with depression" were:

1)  Find support
2)  Do the things you know make you happy (even if you don't feel like it)
3)  Do something different/change something

So, I realized:

1)  My "support" is writing here to you all (along with more than a few awesome people directly in my life) even if I don't get any feedback.  Knowing that putting myself out there might help even one person feel less alone makes me feel less stupid about spilling my guts...also, getting it all down and thinking it through like this makes it feel less scary...so, thanks for being my support!
2)  I need, more than ever, to figure out how to get my ass running regularly.....not an easy task.  It is part motivation, mostly logistics/timing and has seemed impossible lately, but as my amazing Ironman sister Rachel said the other day "Well, Sarah--there really aren't any excuses right?  I mean, just DO it."  She's totally right of course and I'm hearing her say that over and over and have started fitting in a little workout during the day whenever I can.  I do need to be better about finding projects for me and Zoe to do together, but I've also been realizing that what's taken it's place lately has been a lot more quiet reading time or card/board game playing which I also love so instead of feeling bored with that, I've been trying to be more appreciative of those times.  Also, as idiotic as it feels to me sometimes, getting on Facebook to read meaningless stuff is entertaining to me and it makes me feel connected with people I'd otherwise have lost touch with long ago.  I love that I can still tell my old work friends about what the kids are up to and looking at family photos of people I went to high school with makes me nostalgic and grateful for the present time all at once.
3)  I took the kids to the pet store this afternoon and got a fish!  I'd been thinking about it lately and realized I had enough cash to get a little bowl and a betta fish so off we went.  There was one pale, pathetic looking female among a bunch of brightly colored males and Zoe insisted on bringing the girl home.  She named it Ada, after our friend Katherine's new baby girl and the kids love having her in their room.  I know it could backfire on me, with the strong possibility that Zoe and I will both get sick of cleaning the water weekly and it could, you know, DIE fairly soon but I think I prepared her well and I feel up to the challenge of taking care of a little tiny pet so...

....there you go.  I think I'm on my way back up.  I'll look forward to obsessively watching my stats to see how many page views I've gotten and wonder how many of you felt relieved that you aren't the only ones who feel this way sometimes.  I will give myself permission to imagine at least one of you saying "Oh Sarah, I LOVE hearing ANYTHING and EVERYTHING you have to say" and decide to not care if most of you roll your eyes and say "here goes Sarah, rambling on about her personal shit again" because I do feel better having put it all out there.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Happy Birthday, Blog!

It's a little hard for me to believe, but today marks a whole year since I started writing this blog.  I started it on a whim and wasn't sure I'd be able to keep it up and now it's one of my favorite things to do.  Thanks so much for reading!

Here are three things I never want to forget about today:
1) Owen walking around our neighborhood on his own two feet for the first time (without the aid of a toy stroller, walker or adult hand):

video
2) The first sentence Zoe has ever written without asking for any help:

3) While describing to me how we get milk from cows, Zoe kept calling udders "mudd-ohs"