Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Time with our sweet boy

Zoe is off on an adventure with Nathan's parents this week, leaving me with my special guy.  I just love spending time with Owen by himself because we never get to do it.  I have one-on-one time with Zoe regularly while Owen takes his afternoon nap, but I never get to hang with just O-man for an extended period of time.  He is such wonderful company and this week I feel as if I've been able to see the world through his eyes just a little bit, which is so awesome.

When Zoe was this age, I was about to give birth to Owen so I have to admit I was pretty nervous and tired all the time.  It made me a little sad to realize that today because I worried about not having appreciated the preciousness of this age with her.  I know I did soak it up as much as I could and that she and I have always had fun together but I do wish I'd been able to loosen up just a bit.  Hard to do when you're about to have a baby I know, but I think it was also because she is our first born--everything the first time around had much higher stakes and we took everything so seriously.  We stressed out over behavioral stuff that I now understand is just part of being 2 going on 3 years old.  I knew it on some level at the time but let myself get too bogged down with wondering if I was doing everything "right".

Being with Owen right now is pure joy but don't get me wrong--he can drive me crazy.  For instance, you may or may not be able to spot me once in a great while changing his diaper on the Jamba Juice bathroom floor yelling "Hold STILL Owen!  Stop KICKING!!  GRRRRR!!!" as he kicks even harder (aiming for my face I believe) while laughing and imitating my "mad voice" (that happened just a couple of hours ago...ahem...)..

These are a few of the things I know now that I didn't before:

-Time goes by so quickly with these little loves.  They go through phases, changing almost completely within a matter of 6 months

-Sometimes all you have to do to end a toddler tantrum is suddenly exclaim something like: "Woah!!  Someone is walking this way with their dog!!"

-If you can just get through the moment it'll probably be alright in the next one.  It might even be the best part of the day (in a good way...or a mediocre way but still)

-In general, as long as you put your foot down and set some boundaries--the ones that are really important to you--you don't have to get the discipline stuff down perfectly in every crazy toddler tantrum moment

-Your kids will know where you stand as long as you're not a complete pushover all the time.  It's okay if they walk over you a little bit if that's what gets you through a moment or an entire day

-If you can stop yourself once in a while before getting annoyed at their craziness or feeling flabbergasted with their maniacal, senseless laughing (I wouldn't know about this but I've heard from other parents......what?) you might be able to laugh along with them or join in the craziness and end up having a blast

I had heard all of this from seasoned parents while Zoe was this age but didn't really know for myself until I saw her through it.  It's allowing me to focus on the good stuff with Owen and I'm grateful for that.

Anyway because I know you're dying to see a million pictures of Owen doing cute things this week, I'll indulge you.  You're welcome!

Monday was Nathan's day off and the first day Zoe drove off with Grandma and Peepaw, so we took him to The Children's Museum of Denver.  We hadn't been in a while and they've made tons of amazing improvements since.  It was fun to watch Owen choose the stuff he wanted to do the most and go through it all at his own pace.

First stop, the fire truck...learning how to call 911
The mini-grocery store.  Always my favorite cute to see all the kids taking on roles without much (if any) guidance from their parents.  I don't know why, but it cracks me up!
The bubble room...getting ready to catch a falling vapor filled bubble
Trains..I was predicting this to be the longest stop, but he didn't spend much time in here.  Funny how we think we know our kids...
Art room
Ball tracks.  This was very cool but he had trouble following where the balls went so we didn't spend much time.

Mini-veterinary hospital...a new favorite for me.

I love this picture so focused!

"Heh-woh?  Da cat is sick.  Heh-woh?  Da cat is sick....she didn't say anything!!"

Launching paper rockets...lots of belly laughs here.
Learning to use tools with Daddy

Temporary water exhibit outside

Play treehouse.  Another of my favorites at this museum.
The Old Mill
Caught one!

Puppet show

In the days leading up to this week, we asked Owen a few times what the "one thing" he wanted to do was and he repeatedly said "Go to the Rocketship Paygound!"...which is just down the road from us.  We don't go much because it's really hot in the summertime and windy in cooler weather but he doesn't ask to go very often.  I was so surprised to find out that it was the "one thing" he wanted to do during his special Owen-week.  Since it was just me and him, I asked him if he wanted to try riding his Strider there and back all on his own and he was PUMPED to do so.  It was kind of stressful/hilarious teaching him to stay on the right on the creek path.  I would tell him to stay along the side, he would do so and immediately float to the middle/left side.  I'd say (while pointing):  "Stay on the right, buddy" and he'd yell (and drift to the left): "I'M STAYIN'!! I'M STAYIN'!!!"
Top o' the rocket
Last night we met Nathan up on campus for a picnic dinner.  It was really fun and reminded both me and Nathan of the days he and Zoe would meet me for dinner at Bryant Park in the good ol' New York days.  After eating we walked around a bit and got a tour of the CSF theatre.  Upon entering and seeing where we were, Owen started running and yelling "The outside thee-tah!  The outside thee-tah!!  Yay!!"
Owen told me today that in this picture, he was "pee-tendin' to watch Daddy in the show"
This morning, after sleeping in until 10:30 (I was so relieved to find he wasn't sick--he's never slept that late without waking up really sick) he and I went to Moe's to get bagels for lunch and then Jamba Juice to enjoy some smoothies, hang out, watch cars go by, play games and chat.  This is another of his favorite outings so I vowed to stay until he was ready to go.  We stayed for an hour and a half!

Ahhh....what a week.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Here goes nothing

I'm taking a cue from my ultra talented and super duper supportive author friend Jessika Fleck's blog post today and outing myself.  I'm officially telling you all that I've decided to write a book.  Or, I'm at least going to use the goal of writing a book as a way to really learn how to write.  I admit I think I have a natural knack for it but I really want to take the time to learn some legit skills in order to be able to get more out of my writing and perhaps even take it somewhere someday.  I love blogging but I'm getting the feeling that if I put my mind to it, I may just be able to do something a little more special than just rambling whenever I happen to feel inspired.

Since deciding to do this about a week or two ago, I've tried to talk myself out of it at least 10 times because this is what I do....It's what I did in high school when I quit playing the saxophone even though I was pretty good at it in junior high.  I was afraid I would try out for jazz band (which I really wanted to be in) and fail, so I didn't even audition.  That was the end of my sax career.  I still remember the look of disappointment on the face of my junior high music teacher when I told him I was quitting....It's what I did when I quit singing and playing the piano after high school.  I was afraid of playing and singing in front of people I hadn't known all my life because I was sure they would  be able to see that I wasn't totally polished.  So, I didn't seek out the music world in college and fell into partying and not giving a shit instead.  If I was drunk enough I'd occasionally play guitar and sing for my closest college friends but that's as far as I took my music career....  It's what I did when I quit acting.  I was afraid of almost everything with that one, but mostly afraid of never getting cast in anything and if I did get cast in something, getting terrible reviews.  So I quit...  I've always felt okay with these paths ending because I had an absolute blast along the one I did take: the incredible experiences working backstage (which I still have a huge hankering to return to) and just the small fact that if I hadn't taken the path I took, I never would have met Nathan and ended up with this family I adore to no end.

However, I do sometimes feel a loss when I think of those things I quit along the way.  Deep down in the depths of my consciousness (so deep that I'd have never admitted it out loud at the time) I knew I had talent.  If I'd only been patient and plodded along, learning from mistakes and living without fear of failure and judgement then any of those talents could have blossomed into something really special.  Instead, they are simply truncated hobbies...they are buds that never got the chance to open up and show their most brilliant colors because I threw away my watering can.  At this point in my life I can admit I think that's a shame even though I love where my life has led me.

So here I am telling you that I'm not going to quit this time.  I feel a spark in there somewhere and I'm buying a new watering can.  My friends Jessika Fleck and Kristi Pikiewicz are giving me guidance from the inside track and I'm finding out about a bunch of cool ways you can get your name and writing out there in cyber world.  I am working on finding an existing, popular website that might be willing to give me a "blog home" or allow me to be a "guest blogger" with the goal of publishing this book I'm apparently writing bit by bit so I can get feedback as I go and maybe even a following.  If I achieve that goal, when I do finish the book (just so you know, I do feel a little--I mean a LOT--ridiculous saying that) I can try and sell myself by showing them that people have responded well to what I've  put out there.

Anyway, here we go!  Support and encouragement are most welcome at this point!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Through the eyes of my present self

I felt compelled recently to go back to the very beginning of my blog and read it without judgement.  I promised myself I would treat the old me with kindness and patience.  I made a deal with myself that as soon as I started to feel my eyes roll, I would stop reading and pick it up in the same place on a different day, patience and kindness renewed.  This is no small task for little ol' me, let me tell you.  I usually re-read my posts many times immediately after I hit the "publish" button because I know that it won't be long before I can't stand what I've written.  I don't know why this happens but it does and all I can say is that I'm working on it, I promise.

So I started from "A beginning...." and took my time.  I was happy to see that I wasn't completely mortified and actually found some stuff I'm proud of in there.  The most interesting thing I came to realize was that I have changed a lot over these last couple of years, but also haven't changed a bit.  In those early days when Owen was tiny and not sleeping much, I was doing a lot of masking but I was also trying to be as honest as I possibly could.  I was searching for distraction while trying to live in the moment.  I was complaining and venting while putting a positive spin on difficult situations.  This is still "my way" but I like to think that I'm taking up a little more space in my world now...trying to apologize less and trust my confidence.  Learning to stop feeling embarrassed by my accomplishments...respect my limitations and forgive my weaknesses.

I'm telling you all of this because I don't know if you've noticed me changing.  You may or may not miss my stories about the kids or my heart felt pleas for support.  I've been going along assuming you either understand or haven't noticed but I wanted to mention it anyway.  I wanted you to know that I miss the days when Zoe would say something funny or do something to drive me crazy and I would give myself time to mull whatever it was over enough to articulate it in a post.  Owen has come into his own hilarious personality and I feel a bit of remorse and guilt for missing opportunities to honor his little personality with musings and interpretations from his tired, loving mother.  At the same time though, I  feel grateful that I seem to be getting better about living those moments with both kids privately.  I can't assume that either one of them will grow into adults who appreciate how much I talked  publicly about them and I get the feeling that in taking so many pictures and crafting posts around private moments I'm somehow losing little bits of the preciousness in this time with my kids.

The truth is that I share all of this stuff for many reasons, but one of the main reasons is that I hope it will help me remember this time more clearly.  I know that there will come a day when I can't remember what their voices sounded like exactly.  I will forget what it feels like to sit inches away from Owen's face while he tells me a story, his bright innocent eyes earnestly focused in on my bleary ones.  I know I will forget how hilarious it is to hear Zoe trying out new "grown up" phrases and concepts before she really knows what they mean.   I know I will forget these little things that make him who he is at 2.5 years old and her who she is at 5.5 years old and it makes me feel all panicky.

However, I've been given some insight into this personal struggle on my early morning runs these last few weeks.  I'm training for a marathon in October and have been getting up with the sun for most of my runs and even earlier for my long runs.  I tend to run in different combinations of loops around the city because a) it's easy to find bathroom stops that way and b) I like to witness life happening around me as I trudge's what keeps me energized and many times has given me extra pep in my step just when I was about to give up and walk.  I feel inspired by seeing people live their lives.. passing by a barista unlocking the coffee shop door reminds me that I am one of many people living their lives every day, doing their best.  None of us are particularly extraordinary every single day.  Sometimes I need to remind myself of that so I can stop putting so much pressure on myself to be "at my best" all the time.

Twice in these last couple of weeks, I've run by new mothers doing the early morning pace with their tiny babies.  One of these mothers was pacing the street in front of her house in her slippers and the other on a deserted pedestrian shopping mall with a cup of coffee in her hand.  Both had total bedheads, were dressed in their pj's and had that far off, "I've been up all night with this baby" look in their eyes.  As I ran past both of them, I tried my best to give them a reassuring look and some encouraging supportive words but I hesitated because I realized I couldn't help but to do those things with a hint of nostalgia...the exact tone someone in their position tends to loath.  When you're in the middle of that stage, the last thing you want to hear is: "Enjoy them while they are that tiny!".  I know, I was there.  I realized in those moments that I had forgotten about those early morning "We are the only 2 people on this earth" walks with my babies.  It wasn't that long ago but somehow I'd forgotten about it.  I realized I don't have to stress so much about getting all of this stuff down myself because sometimes memories are sparked by witnessing other people living life.  It happens to me when I listen to music and smell specific smells and now it happens when I see other parents doing the same things I used to do with my kids.  It's a relief to know that sometimes you can trust memories to come back when you least expect them.  In the end, that's when reliving them is the most fun anyway.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Hidden Treasure

I'm a pretty good gift giver sometimes, if I do say so myself.  I really enjoy thinking carefully about who a person is and especially, what kinds of things they don't realize other people know about them and surprising them with a related gift.  I like to think that we all have a treasure box we open when we are alone from time to time to polish, organize or simply gaze in contentedness.  I can't always pull it off, but when I'm able to catch a glimpse of someone's treasure box and maybe add to it,  it's one of the most satisfying feelings I can think of.

Over the past couple of weeks, I've become inspired to go through that process for myself.  I realized that I've opened my mind to the things people I love care about countless times.  I've spent a lot of time and loving energy into figuring out how to highlight, acknowledge and honor these people.  I will always love doing that and don't plan on giving it a rest, but I'm admitting I've never put that kind of effort into finding out what's in my treasure box, or I haven't in a long time.  I used to be better about it when I was younger and had less responsibilities...I had a spot in the woods near the house I grew up in where I could steal away and just sit, soaking up the surroundings...I used to shut myself in my room, lay on the floor with my radio and collection of tapes and listen to my favorite music for hours on end....if I was having a hard day, I would sit at the piano and play all of my favorite songs until I felt better...

It becomes harder as we get older because we have less time, but I'm not floating through life without any interests or deep passions.  However, I don't  spend enough time honoring those things and trying to figure out how they all meet in the center, with me.  I'm not a religious person, but I do believe all living beings on this earth are connected and that there is deep meaning in that connection.  I think I'm always finding ways to strengthen those connections and have attempted this by nurturing other people.  I'm only just now considering the possibility that these connections can only get so strong if I'm not spending more time polishing the stuff in my own treasure box.

As parents, we've heard over and over again (and nodded our heads in agreement) that by taking care of ourselves, we become better parents and partners.  Although I've always believed this to be true, for some reason I don't personally invest the energy into the concept.  Now that my kids are getting older though, it's becoming easier to see that there will be life after this one I'm entrenched in.  My "after kids" life has always been fuzzy because having kids has been my end goal my entire life.  All I ever wanted was to become a mother and somehow I never considered the fact that someday, my kids would be adults and more space would be made for me to think about me again.  So...what to do with that?

I've decided to start figuring that open my creaky old treasure box again and polish, organize and gaze in contentedness...I'm excited to see what comes of it.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Bad Day

At 9am this morning, Zoe had a gargantuan meltdown because her "princess necklace" broke.  She uses it every 3 months, but was convinced that it was magical and she was an actual princess because she had the necklace.  When we tried to sooth her by saying we could restring it on a stronger string she said the magic had been in the actual string, and that the magic disappeared the moment it broke.  She was melting down so loudly that I had to shut her bedroom window so people outside wouldn't think she was dying.  I'm sure our immediate neighbors were woken up early, wondering what the hell was going on over here.

She eventually calmed down and I started my recovery process, but had to dig a little because I had a lot I wanted to accomplish today and everything had to happen at an exact time in order for me to pull it off.  So, I got right down to business and was really on a roll.  I even got the kids out to get their haircut, which wasn't part of the original plan.  After haircuts, I found myself cruising along, bread in the oven and dinner on the stove.  I was cooking dinner early because our afternoon is full of stuff we have to do outside of the apartment.  The dinner I was making not only smelled great but was going to feed us for 2, maybe 3 days so I was feeling really good.  I even dared to think to myself "Alright, nice work turning a bad day into a great day!" and the next moment, I wine glass randomly feel out of the cupboard, shattering into tiny pieces all over the counters and floor.  I wanted to scream, but instead reminded myself that I could put cooking on hold to clean it up, and keep on cooking after.  I had to dump a bowl of spices that had been waiting to be added to the pot of stew on the stove but other than that I thought it was all salvageable.  After cleaning the floor, I kept stepping on tiny, unseen pieces of glass so got the vacuum out.  After vacuuming the floor and taking a deep breath to move on with the stew, I noticed shards of glass on the stovetop.  I stood there for a few minutes trying to decide what the likelihood was of pieces of glass making it's way into the pot too and then realized I couldn't take any chances.  I threw away the stew and then cried.

I'm slowly feeling better but am having a hard time shaking the awful feeling that I just wasted 3 days worth of dinners for us.  In the end though, I do realize the best thing to do is follow Zoe's sage advice (bestowed upon me in the midst of my tears): "Think of it this way: at least you're not dead!"

Do me a favor and share any similar stories you may have?  I'm almost out of the self pity stage but could use a couple of chuckles and "I know how you feel"'s.