Tuesday, December 02, 2014

365 of 30: Days 28, 29, and 30

Things have been pretty mundane for the past few days. I admit, I haven't done anything truly significant to spread happiness to others, but I have been happy to have my family all back together!

The husband went hunting with his buddy on Sunday so it was just me and the kiddos at home. It was a low-key pajama day with lots of movies and lots of laundry! Sometimes those are just the best kinds of days- no reason to leave the house, nowhere in particular to be, and you can just float along all day. We certainly floated on Sunday.

On Monday I picked up my teeth bleaching trays from my dentist! I am so excited to have them done and I had decided that Monday would be my last day of soda. I figured if I'm investing in a whiter smile, I better stop wasting money on something that is not only bad for my teeth, but bad for my health in general.
Well, I totally cheated. I drank the last of a bottle of Pepsi I had in the fridge earlier today.
I regret nothing. I'm bleaching my teeth as I type this. No more soda!
If you're feeling down, consider a diet change. Even if it is as simple as cutting out something less than stellar for you body. I'm not one who can go without sugar or bread, but I think if I really try, I can stick to this no soda thing. I'm keeping Excedrine and chocolate on hand for the headaches.

Today was another low-key day. K woke up puking, London seemed extra sleepy, and Husband had a ton of errands to run. I stayed home and played 14,793 games of tic-tac-toe with K.
He's so fun to play games like that with. He could just keep going and going for hours! Sometimes I let him win, sometimes I win and try to teach him about being a good sport if he loses.

Well, today, he actually, genuinely beat me! TWICE! I know it's such a simple thing, but I was so proud of him! K is the type of kid that just hurries through everything without stopping to learn about what he might be doing. He's just so into the adventure of things that it can sometimes be difficult to get him to focus. Well, today he focused, and took his time, and thought about his moves and he won! It was the best thing!!

On another happy note, I found out that a friend of mine is expecting her first baby! I am so excited for her and her husband to start this amazing adventure called parenthood! They are going to be amazing parents!

Seriously, do babies just bring the Happy or what??

Which brings me to my next thought... if you know me, you know I want another baby. It's no secret. Husband and I have been on different pages about this for some time now... ok, maybe not different pages entirely, but more like different paragraphs. He's very logical in the way he thinks and makes decisions and I just go with whatever my heart tells me.

I'm not announcing anything.

But I did finally say some stuff and express some feelings that I have never expressed to Husband about this particular subject before. We actually talked about it all. It was nice to just get all my feelings out in the open rather than being ashamed or embarrassed or feeling silly- even if we didn't end up with the exact same thought process on the subject.

 Now I have some Walking Dead to catch up on and some shut-eye to get to.
Keep smiling!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

365 of 30: Days 20 through 27

Lots has happened and things got busy since my last post!

In preparation for my husband to come home working over seas for the past several months, K and I got new haircuts (sorry, London, your crazy mop of hair had to wait), we cleaned up the house a bit, and tried to make it look like I kept up on the housework while he was gone. Truth is, we really didn't care too much about how the house looked, we were just excited to have him home!

K didn't even recognize him at first when we picked him up. He's got a pretty good-looking beard going on! :) We grabbed some burgers on the way home and just relaxed for the rest of the day. Happy much??? I think so!! It's nice to know that he's home safe after so much travel. Kudos to you moms out there with military husbands! I don't know how you keep it together so well while they are deployed! And for the men and women in uniform- thank you! Thank you for the sacrifices you make day in and day out!

After the husband got home, it was all about hearing his stories and catching up. I think the time away gave us each a deeper appreciation for each other. Our marriage, like every other marriage, isn't perfect. But we keep at it, and we work through things.

We started season 4 of The Walking Dead, we had dinner with friends, we shopped for Christmas presents, we had Thanksgiving dinner with his family... it's been a good week! I kind of dread going back to the normal routine. Can't it just be no school and no work forever?? :)

Until next time- SMILE!
If you just feel like there's nothing happy in your day, maybe you need to BE the Happy! Slap a smile on your face and fake it til ya make it, if that's how it has to be. Some days, when I was overwhelmed and didn't have the spouse to help me out after an especially long day, I just had to force my smile and pretend that I really wanted to watch All Dogs Go To Heaven for the fourth time that day.... And guess what, sometimes it helped me to get out of that funk, even when I had to force it.

Friday, November 21, 2014

365 of 30: Day 19 Pick It Up, Put It In The Sack

The park near us always seems to be a disaster. Always garbage everywhere. I blame the delinquent teenage skateboarders and their less-than-classy girlfriends. Every day when I drive by, it irks me knowing that people are just too lazy to pick up their own trash. Pure laziness.

So I decided that after I picked K up from school today that we'd go for a trash-collecting stroll and do a little bit of good for the earth and my fellow park-goers.

Someone has to do it, right?

So we go our latex gloves on, strapped a leash on the dog, readied out garbage sack, and ventured forth.

Kannon thought it was a fun game to look for trash to pick up and he was THE best sport about it! He looked along the bike trail, on the soccer fields, in the gutters, and around the skate park. 

One trip around the park and our bag was completely full! 
I talked to Kannon a lot about why we should never litter and he put it so perfectly when he said,
"so some naughty people make the earth dirty and all the nice people have to pick up and make the earth healthy again, right mom?"

What an honest lesson... the good people are always cleaning up after the naughty ones. I'm so glad that he understood what we were doing and why. He was so happy to be able to help the earth and I couldn't have been more proud!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

365 of 30: Day 18

London had some appointments today and on the way home we stopped for lunch at one of my favorite burger joints. I was in no mood to get London out of the car to go inside. In fact, I usually eat while I drive because I'm constantly in a state of hurry.

But not today. I at least parked the car, let K climb up front, and we finished our lunch while laughing and talking. I didn't once utter the words, "hurry up" to him. It was just nice.

He asked me so many questions and sang a song from Mary Poppins to us. He asked my if I'd teach him everything I know. He pretended to be The French Fry Monster. His mouth and cheeks were covered in ketchup. He asked if he could be a doctor when he grows up. He asked if he could be a teacher when he grows up. He asked if he could marry me. He informed me of how he gets out of his nightmares. (he opens his eyes and sees his room so then he's out)

He wanted me to tell him all about trucks. I tried my best. I think he might even understand that there's a difference between a truck bed and a bed that we sleep in. He told me he would really love a truck to haul rocks. He didn't know where he'd take the rocks, but he was pretty sure there would be rocks in his truck.

I needed his running commentary today. I need more talk and less rush. More meals together and less eating on the go. I needed that little bit of Happy in an empty parking lot.

Lay Off The Leggings Already!

I'm so bored with the Great Legging Debate. There are countless blog entries, Facebook posts, and Tweets about why women shouldn't wear leggings.

Yes, you're right, leggings look best worn with a long tunic or a dress. Don't our bums always look better if they are covered up??

Yes, some people aren't grasping the concept of sheer. Sheer leggings are a no-go. Sheer anything is a no-go if you ask me.

Let me just address the top three reasons I've heard lately on why leggings aren't pants...

*Leggings aren't pants because they show every little bump and dimple and roll... it's implied that that is the reason leggings don't look good. Well, way to perpetuate the notion that women should be ashamed of their bodies. It's almost 2015- can't we all admit that cellulite is just part of life, especially for women, and there's nothing to be embarrassed about? Sure, there are genetic mutations that make some women skin-dimple-free, so is it then OK for those women to wear leggings as pants because they don't look 'gross'? And here's what I totally don't get: it's women judging other women this way! Women, who know what it's like to be judged that way, are doing the judging. I agree that we should all avoid the camel-toe issues that are far too prevalent with leggings, but come on...

*Leggings are too revealing and shouldn't be worn because men will have impure thoughts. Well, that sounds like a personal problem between you and your husband and you should talk to your clergy leader about it. I will not be held responsible for your husband's damnation. What about tight maxi skirts that are so popular right now? What about the fact that the only reason so many women's cracks don't hang when they bend down is because they are wearing garments? What about fitted tops? Should we resign ourselves to wearing potato sacks just so you can think your husband has only clean thoughts? And what about putting leggings on little girls (and boys. Yes, it's real!)? Can we not do that because we don't want to put bad thoughts into the mind of pedophiles? Newsflash: those thoughts are already there and thicker pant fabric isn't going to stop them.

*Leggings are not for fat girls. Um, they totally are. I'm no waif, and I'll tell ya right now that my yoga pants get my through the week sometimes. Here's the thing, jeans aren't all the comfy, but put them on someone with extra poundage and they are SO uncomfortable! I know I don't look hot in my yoga pants. I really do. But sometimes putting my jeans on and feeling them squeeze my jooby-jell over my waistband like a fat caterpillar only makes me sad and want to drown my sorrows in a dozen cupcakes. Like, why can't I just sometimes get dressed for the day and live in the delusion that I have a pair of pants that actually fit over my ass? Can you just give me that???

I think as soon as labia-revealing short shorts are condemned every summer, we should just leave leggings alone. Stop trying to put women down for this trend... it makes us all look worse than if we wore leggings every day.

Here's a post I stumbled upon earlier that had me cracking up... Everyone chill about the leggings, m'kay?

My Open Letter: The Occupied Space

I am not one for open letters to so-and-so. I think it's something we've taken too far, along with fancy pizza crusts and gigantic hair bows for our babies. I don't need cheese-stuffed, bacon-topped, pretzel crust, nor do I need to read the open letters of every Tom, Dick, and Harry about the various injustices they come across on a daily basis. 

But alas, here I am, with an injustice having been witnessed and the need to just say something about it.

To the woman in the handicap parking spot at Roy City Recreation Center, 

I pulled in next to you, in a rush to get my son in to his swimming lesson to which he was already late. It had already been a long day at the hospital for two separate appointments for my daughter. I had considered skipping out on my son's swimming lessons tonight due to sheer exhaustion, but it was the last lesson and he loves it so much.

I took the last available handicap parking spot, as I had my disabled daughter and her wheelchair in tow. Normally I try to park in regular spots and leave the handicap-accessible spots open for people who are in more need of them than I am. But tonight, for some reason, I took advantage of my right to a handicap parking pass and slipped right in next to you.

I noticed a glow coming from the interior of your SUV and wondered, in the back of my head somewhere, if your interior lights had been left on and your battery was being drained. We were late, it was cold, I had an anxious little 5-year old that needed to get in to his swim lesson and a severely disabled 7-year old attached to a feeding pump. I had a lot happening. But still, my thoughts drifted to making sure some poor sap inside the building didn't come out to a dead battery. I made a mental note to let the front desk know someone left their lights on and maybe they could make an announcement and you would be grateful that someone took the time to notice and all would be right in the world.

But then I noticed you sitting in your vehicle. You were what I'd call an older woman. You looked warm and comfortable and it was then that I noticed your engine was running and what I had originally thought to be the interior lights of your vehicle, was actually just the glow radiating from a digital reading device. Sitting in the driver's seat, you were enjoying some sort of publication on your Nook. Or maybe it was a Kindle. I didn't think much of you.

I try not to ever judge a person that uses the handicap parking spots. I understand that there are so many conditions that are unseen that would make walking long distances very difficult and therefore entitle a person to the coveted handicap parking pass. For all I knew, you had a muscular disorder and tired easily when walking from your car to the door of the rec center. For all I could see, you were an amputee who struggled to even stand up, let alone cross an entire parking lot. You left my mind.

When the swimming lesson was over we headed back out into the cold night. I noticed, as your parking space was a straight shot from the door of the rec center, that you were still there, car running, enjoying what I imagined to be a terribly written harlequin novel on your e-reader.

I walked past your window and muttered to myself, "she's been sitting here in the handicap parking space this whole time?" I was kind of miffed. But, I reminded myself that I don't know everyone's situation.

Maybe you were just the driver, and you were waiting for someone to come out of the building. Maybe you were early for your water aerobics class and you were just killing time with Fifty Shades of Grey. I tried not to judge you. God knows I don't want to be judged when I use the space because my daughter is disabled but I walk perfectly fine.

As I was loading my kids into the car, I noticed you turn your headlights on and put down your sexy time story. I thought you'd be heading into the building for aerobics class or getting out to help some disabled or elderly person into your passenger seat. But you didn't do either of those things.

After I got settled behind the wheel of my own SUV, with my kids buckled safely in the back and the wheelchair strapped securely onto the cargo hitch, I took a minute to check my phone. And I noticed you back out of your parking stall and drive away. Alone.

You were alone in the car when I pulled up, and you left alone. I had given you the benefit of the doubt. I tried. But I just couldn't figure out why you would have been sitting there that whole time, 30 minutes, using up a handicap parking space for nothing other than reading.

Are you disabled? If so, why didn't you ever get out of the car? Were you just there to have a quiet place to catch up on Christian and Anastasia? If so, why did you need the prime parking real estate at a local recreation center to do it?

Were you just the chauffeur? If that was the case, why didn't you drop your rider off and park somewhere other than that very first parking stall? You could have circled the parking lot. You could have left that spot open for someone else.Furthermore, why did you leave without them? Did you decide it's just too much hassle and head to the airport for a one-way ticket to warmer climates and drinks with umbrellas in them? Don't worry, I bet all caretakers have entertained that fantasy. Was the person you were waiting for going to be pumping iron for an extended period of time and you didn't really need to wait in the parking lot at all? Then why sit there for thirty minutes?

Like I said, I try not to judge but I just can't understand this. I've tried.

I know this isn't a big issue for some. Who cares, right? It was just half an hour in one measly parking stall.
Well, just about every person who has every had an actual need for those spaces cares. Those are the people you affect with your ignorance. I hope you had a sincere reason for what I witnessed. I hope I'm wrong about you. I hope next time you go somewhere, you'll park appropriately. I also hope you weren't reading that terrible trilogy.

The Frustrated, Feeling Overwhelmed, Emotionally Drained, Assumes Everyone Is Honest mom who parked next to you for those thirty minutes that you were catching up on your reading 

I know I'm not perfect, and I shouldn't judge others, but this makes me crazy. It's like when a single, able-bodied person uses the handicap bathroom stall just because they like to stretch their legs while they pee. Well, guess what. I'm the mom who has two kids, one wheelchair, and a tiny bladder that is forced to wait for you to vacate the stall in order to use the restroom. 

Let's all just be aware that there are actually other people in the world, shall we? 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Day 365 of 30: Day 17

I got the opportunity to volunteer my time to K's preschool. It was very simple, just making some pillowcases that they needed made, but it was nice to be able to help out. I wouldn't exactly say I'm down with volunteering at the class field trips or patient enough to help the kids with their finger paintings, but I can sew. It was good to feel like I could help out without wanting to throat punch someone else's child. Harsh? Ok, so maybe I wouldn't throat punch them...

Give of yourself when you can, in whatever way you're comfortable. It doesn't have to be a big, dramatic gesture. It can be as simple as 9 pillowcases. Just do some volunteering, it'll make you feel good.

365 of 30: Day 16 My Little Guppie

I watched K at swim lessons today.

He amazes me. Not only because I'm a little partial to him, but because it's truly amazing to watch him learning and trying new things. It's amazing to watch any child learn.

Maybe it's because I have a greater appreciation for things like this since London isn't able to do all these things... But think about it. Think about how much a child learns in the first year of their life. The first five years. And every year after that they are exposed to one thing after another that they can learn from.

So something as simple as watching K at his swim lessons brings me so much joy! Knowing that he's cognitively able to understand instructions and make the effort... it's so simple, but so phenomenal!

When he was just a baby, I cried a little when he learned how to transfer a toy from one hand to the other. His development surpassed London's at such a young age. My heart both broke and swelled with pride all at once.

Don't ever take for granted the fact that your child can learn and develop. It's amazing. Try to take the time to answer their questions or show them how to do things.

365 of 30: Day 15

I'm treating myself to whiter teeth.

I've always hated my teeth. So I decided to save up the money for some whitening trays from my dentist's office and I finally got the process started.

I'm not trying to be vain, but sometimes doing something to make you like your appearances a little more is just fine.

I'm not a huge fan of plastic surgery or cosmetic procedures- but seriously, dental work just doesn't count in my book. Your smile is a huge part of your overall appearance, so take care of it and if you're able to, do what you need to make yourself love your teeth! :)

Monday, November 17, 2014

365 of 30: Day 14

Happy is going out to lunch with your best friend. And that's exactly what happened on Day 14.

Mexican food, inside jokes, and honest talk.

Get yourself some! It's sure to keep your spirits up!

I don't necessarily have a ton of close friends that I go out with. But I the very best friends in the world. It's about quality, not quantity. It's about surrounding yourself with people who love you for who you actually are, on good days and bad days. Friends who can confide in you and who you can trust with all your own feelings. You don't always have to agree, or have the same interests- in fact, in so many ways, this particular friend and I have complete opposite tastes- but she's been by my side for the past 17 years and I can always count on her for a laugh or a shoulder to cry on.

Things get so crazy after high school graduation and marriage and kids and careers. Don't forget to take time out of all that chaos to slow down and catch up with friends once in a while. 

365 of 30: Day 13 Stinky Dog

So our Dane was a hot mess. She needed a bath in a serious way and she has been shedding like ca-ra-zy! So gross...

So Day 13 was tackling the job of dog-washer.

Well, she's a Great Dane. She's stubborn. She's old. Getting her into the back of the SUV is always a challenge and also something that I always worry will break her hip or, so taking her to the groomer was out of the question. It's far too cold outside for using the hose so an outdoor bath was not an option.

That meant it was me, the dog, and the bathtub. Or more accurately, the shower. For nearly an hour.
You'd have thought I shaved a sasquatch with the amount of hair everywhere in our tiny bathroom.

But she smells better. For a while. It was a small success, but a success nonetheless.

Sometimes we just need one little good thing to call it a good day. If your dog stinks, wash her.
Maybe it won't make your whole day better, but at least you can have a bad day with a clean dog.

The rest of our day was spent Christmas shopping. My kids were so good the whole time we were out and we got a lot crossed off our gift list. I talked to K about love being the true meaning of Christmas. We enjoyed looking at the Christmas displays at the stores and K had a fun time picking out clothes for one of his cousins. (Um, we need a baby ASAP! The boy loves finding the cutest outfits for babies!)

We didn't rush, I stifled my road rage, we listened to Christmas music, and we ate lunch at the Olive Garden. It was a good day, indeed!

365 of 30: Day 12

My kids were being so sweet and cuddling and watching movies together so I took some time to really deep clean the downstairs bathroom and get some laundry done. So mundane but so nice to accomplish!

My goal is to have the whole house nice and clean before the husband gets home from working over seas in about a week... it's a lofty goal, I won't lie.

The rest of the day was spent working on a Christmas project.

Nothing terribly spectacular happened. But Happy doesn't come only from grand events. Happy can be a clean bathroom and cuddles with the kids and watching the new How To Train Your Dragon movie.

365 of 30: Day 11

I have a brand new niece!!

What could bring more happiness than a new life?? I say nothing!
This little gem made me auntie for the 11th time and we are all so glad to have her here in our family! She's warm and squishy and perfect! She is getting the royal treatment in the NICU for a while due to a platelet issue, so I haven't had the chance to hold her yet, but she's in for so many kisses when she busts out of there!!

Babies bring Happy. End of story.

365 of 30: Day 10

Sometimes it's nice to just let the kids skip school and go do something fun! That's what we did for Day 10.

I had nothing on my agenda. No prior commitments, no appointments, no urgent errands to be ran, no reason to rush through the day... So I wasn't worried about how long we stayed; the day was all about just letting K run crazy, getting L out of the house, and having fun!

The museum was pretty cool and K was so care-free; something that he doesn't often seem to be. He's always very worried about London and concerned about her seizures or whether or not she's happy. All too often I think he's just too adult for his young age.

Letting him just be a kid, around other kids, was just what we needed!

There wasn't a lot that the museum had to offer for London, but she seemed content to be there. We did find a few things that she really liked, and got an idea for a fun art project for her room.

London loved to FEEL the music that K played for her!

I know a lot of people would think I'm totally irresponsible for doing this, but I'd recommend it in a heartbeat! What better way to surprise your kids?? The world is full of pressure, even for young kids, so go ahead and skip a day of chores and errands and class and just go do something fun!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

365 of 30: Day 9 Gaining Perspective

Today wasn't so much about going out and doing something to spread happiness, or help others, or even accomplish anything... it was more about remembering that I don't have anything to prove to everyone around me.

Stop trying to gain everyone's approval because it just isn't possible.

Try to just accept yourself without comparison. Stop wanting to be what you perceive those around you to be. Social media is killing our self-esteem. It's all about perspective- people post the things that make them look good. They share with their 'followers' the things that make them enviable to others. They are looking for compliments and they crave 'likes'. I can't even begin to count the number of times I look at people's pictures and read comments like, "can I be you?" or "I wish I looked like you". I hate it. To my way of thinking, it's not a compliment, but rather a sad way of letting the world know that you haven't accepted yourself and would rather idealize someone that you THINK is perfect because of their hair/makeup/house/job/body/etc. It's one thing to tell someone they look great or have a beautiful home, but another thing all together to sit back and compare what you don't have to what they do have.

Don't get me wrong, I do this very thing way too often... But I look at it like this: Would I want my kids to constantly compare themselves to others? No, of course not. So the best way to avoid that is to be an example to them. I want my kids to be able to give sincere compliments to others, but not because they envy them. I want my kids to be happy in their life, not pining away to live the life of someone else. There's one person in particular that I love to hate and hate to love. She appears to have a perfect life with nothing but rainbows and sunshine and flawless lipstick. I remind myself every time I see things posted from her that those are only her highlights. I don't need to envy her because of her outward appearances. I'm not her and I never will be. In fact, I realized recently, that her life is probably SO freakin' exhausting! To live in a way that you're just camera-ready at all times has got to be tiring! So, I figure, either she's walking around like a zombie from constantly having to check her makeup and hair and plaster on that fake smile, or, more likely, she simply puts out the persona in order to look good and get those compliments. So I take everything she posts with a grain of salt. She's not perfect, even though her Instagram account would try to say otherwise. She has her off days, too, even though people aren't assaulted with images of it. It really is all about perspective.

Accept yourself and your life. Do what you can to improve yourself where you want to, but stop trying to be who you are not. Easier said than done, I know. But worth it. Imagine not feeling guilty that you can't afford to take your kids and grandkids on an all-expense vacation to exotic lands or not feeling ugly every time you look at the selfies that girl from high school posts on Instagram??

Monday, November 10, 2014

365 of 30: Day 8

Today was a day that my son and I just clashed. It was an off day for us.

So sometimes just going to bed early is Happy enough.

365 of 30: Days 7: Salted Chocolate

I'm the person who just does everything herself because nobody else does it right.

 I hate when people filled with such good intentions mess up the way I strap London's wheelchair onto the cargo hitch or forget to tighten the lids of her medicine and it leaks out in her medicine bag. I can't stand the way my husband hangs up his coats because they never face the right way and they're never zipped up (see Day 5 of my 365 of 30 posts!) My blood pressure soars when the contents of fridge aren't put back where they go. I'm boderline hysterical if my towels aren't folded the right way because then they don't fit on the shelf in the bathroom. I'm not that mom who invites her children to make cookies with her because I am NOT patient, I hate the mess, and I just want to get the damn things bakes already!

So I knew I had to do it. I had to just bake some freakin' cookies with K. No matter the mess, no matter how they turned out, no matter how long it took. I do, after all, so desperately WANT memories like this! I just have to get out of my head and not get irritated over such trivial stuff.

When I told Kannon it was time to start making the cookie dough, he looked at me as though I'd hung the moon. My heart melted and it I truly realized how much I am missing out on because I have that if-you-want-something-done-right-you-have-to-do-it-yourself mindset. I need to realize that the mess and some minor inconveniences are well worth the bonding and memories that come along with some made-from-scratch Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies. (Salted chocolate- it's the new thing. Just accidentally add three times the specified amount of salt to your cookie recipe and you can experience this delightful new delicacy, too)

So we made cookies...

For the love of all that is holy, I even let him *gulp*... STIR!
I didn't get mad at him for this.
Instead of just getting frustrated that he was plopping balls of cookie dough in any old random place (at one point even trying to spell his name out), I talked to him about why they need to be spaced out...

Then I let him plop them down in any old spot anyway, because, I reminded myself, it's just a batch of cookies. Nothing more.

Hello, Salted Chocolate Chip cookies...

Getting over my insanely selective OCD will probably forever be something I'm working on... But I think the important thing is recognizing it in myself and trying to improve.

Self-improvement is vital to continued happiness (in my humble opinion)... Once we stop trying to improve ourselves, are we then so arrogant as to think we're perfect?

Kinda, yeah.

There's always room to improve.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

365 of 30: Day 6 Happy Blasting!

I thought I'd be writing about how keeping my cool all day with my two grumpy kids was my Happy for today (it was seriously one of those days!)...

Instead, I'll say this:
On the way home from dropping my kids off at my parent's house for the night, I had a Tootsiepop and blasted Taylor Swift in the car all the way home.

You can laugh if you want, but I love her. Her music has always been a guilty pleasure of mine. It makes me happy!

This might seem silly to some, but I hardly ever really blast music in the car. Or the house. I mean, what if blasting my Taylor Swift made it impossible for me to hear the sirens of an ambulance on an emergency call? What if I wasn't able to hear that my engine was disintegrating and was about to blow up the entire car with me in it?? What if my music is so loud in the house that I don't hear the SWAT team banging on the door because they've got the wrong address and they break in with guns blazing?? What if, heaven forbid, someone looked at me funny????

This is how I think. Always. What if, what if, what if...
I mean, seriously? SWAT? Why does my brain even go there??

I think Taylor and I have something in common...

Well tonight I just wanted her Happy. So I blasted it and sang into my Tootsiepop and didn't give a hoot about feeling foolish in front of myself.

So whatever music you like, just like it. Play it. Blast it. Sing along. Don't worry about not hearing SWAT at your door and don't think twice about who might laugh at your taste in music.

Just keep your eye open for those fire trucks and ambulances.

Friday, November 07, 2014

365 of 30: Day 5 Clean your closet!

I've found that when I'm feeling like I just can't relax in my own house, or that I'm just feeling crummy about life, it always helps to get something clean. It's nice to have things neat and orderly and clean, isn't it?? So why is it sometimes so hard to just get it done? I don't know... maybe because it's never-ending, especially if you've got kids. Life gets crazy and chaotic, but coming home to even more chaos just doesn't help.

I really wish I could say I was one of those super moms who always has clean windows, a tidy kitchen, dinner on the table at 6pm, and a magazine-ready, orderly, clean house. But I'm so NOT that person.

And after a while, the chaos always starts to get to me. I can't find things, there are no clean dishes, the kids are down to thread-bare socks that are a size too small, and there's clutter on every surface throughout the whole house. And when it gets that bad, it's just so overwhelming and I don't know where to start to get things back to livable conditions.

So as I was standing in the midst of what can only be described as a natural disaster confined to the rooms of my house, I knew I just had to start with one thing. Just one thing to get the ball rolling.

So that thing was my closet. I'm terribly particular about how my clothes are taken care of. Things need to be washed appropriately. I can't handle things hung up in what I consider to be the wrong manner. I don't like shoulder bumps on my shirts. My closet desperately needed some attention because I've been living in yoga pants and concert t-shirts for the past 3 months. Shoulder bumps were rampant. Hangers were askew. It was the worst kind of anxiety.

After taking care to rehang everything properly, I went ahead and got rid of some things that didn't fit anymore or that I just don't wear enough. I'll take those to the women's shelter.

There's something satisfying about taking good care of your possessions.

Whether you're like me and you need your shirts to be hanging the same direction, with shoulder seams lines up perfectly on your matching black velvet covered hangers, in order of sleeve length, or if you just like to have your silverware perfectly polished at all times, that satisfaction of keeping nice things nice is undeniable.

We live in a disposable world. I think taking proper care of stuff is no longer a priority for people because when something breaks or wears out, they just go out and buy more and more. I hate that.

Take care of your stuff. Clean up and keep things tidy as much as you can. I know it's hard and sometimes the task is intimidating. I know that it's often times that last thing on our to-do list. I know we're not all Martha Stuarts. I know it's not the more important thing for a mom- our kids come first, always.

Maybe you're feeling less than motivated. Maybe you're just super sad one day. I say, clean something.

What's the worst that can happen? You could be sad with a clean closet or you can be sad with a messy closet. Might as well rid your life of shoulder bumps for the time being and see if it helps.

If you need ideas to get you going, here are a few things I did to keep things nice...
Put lengths of pool noodle into your boots to keep them upright and avoid creases and wear.

I found these baskets at Ikea. They hang on the bottom of a shelf, and they are perfect for flipflops and flats!

Got this on Pinterest... Fold your sweaters in half the hotdog way, and drape them onto your hangers. Buh-bye, shoulder bumps!

Thursday, November 06, 2014

365 of 30: Day 4

I'm a firm believer that there's so much happiness to be had by just giving to others. Whether it's donating money to a worthy cause, donating items to your local homeless shelter, volunteering at a soup kitchen, or just helping a neighbor with their yard work; by putting that goodness out into the world, it's impossible to to get some of it back. There are far too many ways to help out to have any excuse not to.

It doesn't have to cost a lot, or anything at all, but you never know how many people you could be helping. Not to mention the fact (can I call it a fact?) that when a person sees someone helping or giving to others, it could warm their frigid heart and they might be inspired to pass along some happiness too.

Good inspires good. 

And we just need more good in this world. 

In London's backpack the other day there was a letter about making emergency kits for the students. It basically asked for us to make one for our student and that they need donations for kits for students whose parents can't afford to make one.

The kits are really pretty simple- some water, juice, canned meat, crackers, granola bars, canned fruit, etc...

I wanted to help out as much as I could, so K and I ventured out to our local big box store for supplies. I already had a few things we needed at home, like gallon-size Ziploc bags and about a billion pieces of Halloween candy that I was all too willing to throw into the kits.

I tried teaching Kannon a little bit about what these kits were for but the concept of emergency situations or natural disasters is kind of a tough subject for a 5-year-old apparently. But he got the gist of it and wanted to help. So I set up the back of my car like an assembly line and he helped me put the kits together.

 Our kits are missing canned fruit, but we've got a really good start! It was fun to do this project with K and to know that we're doing something that London's school needs. 
We made kits until we ran out of supplies, and we ended up with 40! I'd say that's definitely something to be happy about! We can't wait to finish them up and take them to the school! 

While we were at the store, K saw some fresh cut flowers that he just "really really wanted so much" to buy for me. He said that he loved me so much and that he wanted to give me those flowers so I'll feel happy... Well, how could I say no to that?? So he picked out the ones he wanted to give me, I bought them, and he presented them to me. My heart was kind of melting.

There was a lot of Happy in our day today. Lots to be thankful for!

365 of 30: Day 3

Day 3 was a lazy day for sure! London wasn't feeling that great after a long night so I kept her home from school and we went out to buy a new movie while K was in school. We ended up with two new movies, but whatever. I've mentioned before that we're movie people, so it's not unusual for us.

After getting Maleficent for London (and I!) and getting Hercules for K (and I! Hey, Dwayne Johnson is total eye candy...) we spent the afternoon and evening snuggled up on my bed watching movies and eating pizza.

I didn't worry about the laundry, my sewing projects, or cleaning the pig sty that is my home lately. I enjoyed Kannon's questions about the movies. He's getting to this stage where he's really understanding people's emotions and the story lines of movies, so it was interesting to hear his commentary. I enjoyed cuddling with the kids and just watching the movies all the way through with no interruptions.

Sometimes when I'm so wrapped up in my projects I forget that my kids are still growing and learning and carrying on with their little lives while I'm too busy to be present for it. It's so easy to think, "I'll give them my undivided attention tomorrow"... but you're missing out on those small moments that make the every day magical. Like K talking about how Maleficent just felt like nobody loved her anymore, or how London seemed so focused and attentive on the movies. I don't want to miss out on these things so much anymore.

I want to soak those moments up like an Oreo in a glass of milk.

Pizza and movies. Sometimes that's all it takes.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

365 of 30: Day 2

Yesterday was day 2 of what I'm calling my Happiness Project...
It was a simple day. My Happy for the day was something that I too often don't do because I always have projects going on and I'm just plain lazy...

Kannon and I went to the park. We took the dog with us and just got out for a while. We live right across the street from the park but we don't go there nearly as often as we should. We typically stay home watching movies and I usually sew or read or just try to catch up with house work that will never truly be complete no matter how hard I try because, as any mom knows, it's just a never-ending cycle. So why do I worry about it so much? (And let me tell ya, if you just dropped in for a chat some time and saw my house, you'd think I never worried about at all. Toys, clothes, books, papers, unfinished projects... they're everywhere!)

Well, I decided to just get out of my head for a while and let Kannon just go have some fun. We weren't there for very long, but after playing on the playground and walking around the soccer fields, he was grinning from ear to ear and I knew that the fresh air and getting out of the house was the perfect Happy for that day.

It really goes to show you that you don't always have to spend money to achieve a little happiness each day.

All I had to do was stop trying to do all these little projects I have going on and go and let Kannon just be a kid. It's something that I need to do more consistently, not only for my kids but for myself as well.

Fresh air. Get you some.

Total spent on Happy: $0
Running total: About $24

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

365 of 30: My Happiness Project, Day 1

So I turned 30 on November 2nd.


Some women freak out. So far, two days into my thirtieth year, I feel fine about it all. Some women look back and count all the things they haven't accomplished by their thirties and it sends them into some level of depression that only hitting the 'big three-oh' can do... But here's my take on it: I can look back at ANY age and list all the things I wish I would have done by then. Being 30 doesn't suddenly make me sad about missed opportunities that I wasn't sad about when I was 29. Or even 29 and a half.

I try not to regret things in my life, but rather move forward with a greater sense of what I'd like to achieve and how I want to raise my kids. I'd like to think that I've learned even from the things I DIDN'T do in my younger years.

I guess I just think there's enough to be sad about in this life; turning 30 just shouldn't make that list.

BUT, turning 30 did get me thinking. Thinking about the 'good ol' days' when my biggest worry was how to do my hair for school each morning and whether or not that cute boy in my history class liked me. Thinking about learning how to drive, becoming an aunt for the first time, going rollerblading with my best friend every weekend. Things were very simple when I was half my age, and I suppose I'll still be able to say that when I'm 40 and 50 and so on.

Things get complicated as you grow up. Shit gets real.

When I was young, I was just perpetually depressed. I was so down on myself. I NEVER stopped comparing myself to girls who were skinnier, prettier, or more popular. I used to cut myself just to feel some sort of release. I was a little self-destructive but too scared of being in trouble to really get into anything too terrible. But I easily could have been swept away in a bad crowd and ended up God-knows-where doing God-knows-what. For whatever reason, I straightened myself out and came out of my teenage years intact.

And I look back at my so-called 'problems' from back then and just shake my head at my former self.

After getting London's diagnosis, I learned a few things about real heartbreak and real self-doubt. I realized that the sadness I went through as a teen had more to do with me being a selfish, naive teen than it did with actually having something to be sad about. It was just regular teenage stuff. And I think I could have easily turned London's diagnosis around and made it about me and how hard I had it in life but I try very hard not to do that. Well, actually no, I don't try very hard not to do that; I just don't feel that way so there's very little trying involved.

My life doesn't suck. We all have our struggles, and there truly is always someone who has it worse than you. If we all lined up according to how bad we have it, and we got the very end of the line, to the person with the most difficulties, we'd probably discover that even THAT person could look at someone else's problems and honestly think "I'm glad I don't have to deal with that...". We don't all react to stress the same way, so one person's minor setback could be another person's greatest obstacle.

At 30 years old, I feel like I'm pretty happy. But happiness is sometimes something you have to work for. In fact, I think work plays a bag part. I've learned a lot of things, and continue to learn, about staying happy in a world where it's all too easy to drown in your sorrows.

I don't hold all of life's secrets, but I have been asked before how I don't let something like London's disabilities get me down (too much). So here's what I know:
*Giving to others really does bring joy into your life.
*Slowing down and enjoying the moment you're in NOW is difficult in this crazy busy rush-rush-rush hurry-up-and-wait world, but it's important.
*Let go of juvenile tendencies like lying. Seriously, do adults still need to lie??
*Have some freakin' integrity. Just have some.
*Stop being a different person based on whose company you're in. Just be you, all the time, everywhere.
*Try not to compare yourself to everyone else, and instead try to be better than the person you were yesterday.
*Stop pointing out every single flaw about your body. Stop making fat jokes about yourself.
*Work hard first and ask for help second.
*Accept help when it's offered.

I could go on, I'm sure, but those are just a few of the things I have tried my best to do over the past eight or ten years. I still struggle with any number of those things at any given time, but I'm trying.

That's where my 365 of 30 idea came from. Looking back over my last thirty years and realizing how far I've come makes me just want to continue that trend of self-improvement and general happiness.

So every day this year I'm going to do something to spread some happiness. It might be something to make me happy, it might be something to make one of my kids happy or the husband, or maybe it's something to brighten the day of a complete stranger. It could be something like giving a gift or it could be as simple as taking the time to play a game with Kannon instead of telling him I'm busy. Maybe it's getting my house nice and clean, maybe it's sending an old-fashioned letter to someone... There are a billion things we can do to feel good about ourselves, and we have to start somewhere. We always have something to give and we can always help in some way.

So I'll share what I did  yesterday, my first day into this...
We had already had a big birthday party to celebrate London's and Kannon's birthdays. We did it early so that we could do something outside while it was still warm. It was fun and full of kids. But yesterday, on Kannon's actual birthday, he asked for a cake. My first inclination was to tell him 'no' because it's not like we were having a party. But then I thought, why not?? It's just a cake, I had the money, and it was a simple thing. So I let him pick out a cake at the bakery, we put candles on it, and I sang to him in our basement while we watched The Three Amigos. And guess what... he was SO happy! He turned to me, with chocolate smeared all over his perfect little baby face and said, "Thanks for the birthday mom!"

Thanks for the birthday. Not "thanks for the cake", but "thanks for the birthday". I know what he meant by it, but what my emotional mommy side got out of it was, "thanks for giving me life"

All because of a cake.

Total spent on Happy: about $24

Saturday, August 02, 2014


The city I live in is celebrating its "days"...  there's a perfect view of the firework show from my front yard.  Right now I'm watching families gather at the park across the street,  neighbors enjoying the company of their friends with bbq and loud music, and the neighborhood out and about generally having a good time.

Typically we have a bbq with friends and family at our house and watch the fireworks afterward.  This year, I'm sitting in the driveway with just my two kids, throwing Snap-Its, and trying not to feel sorry for myself.  My own parents are away, my in-laws are unable to come up, my siblings either live far away or weren't invited because I've been to preoccupied with what's been going on with London to throw together a bbq, our friends are really Thomas's friends, and my husband is over seven thousand miles away.

I feel terribly alone.

I invited one if my best friends and her family over, then plans changed due to naughty kids and seizures. It seems like nothing is going my way, and I'm wallowing.

I feel like things are happening for everyone around me that I've been wishing would happen for us for some time now; and my optimism is steadily diminishing.

 Hopefully London will rest tonight and I'll feel renewed tomorrow...

Friday, August 01, 2014

Hospital Stay

Things have been crazy lately. We thought London got a sinus infection a few months ago, but after 30 days of antibiotics, things with her seizures just weren't going back to normal. She was prescribed clonazapam to give at night as a little extra boost of seizure meds as well as a bit of sedative to help her sleep.... it worked wonders for getting her through the night with no seizures, but during the day she was having a different kind than her normal and they were causing her to vomit almost each time she had one. After taking her off the med (since it was meant to be temporary anyway), seizure skyrocketed almost immediately.

This past Sunday they got so bad that I took her up to the ER in the morning. We decided to adjust one of her regular meds and we went home after about 5 hours of sitting there. Well, it was short-lived... I ended up taking her right back in that night around midnight.

The seizures were just coming one right after another. She happened to have one while they were getting her stats in the ER and immediately the nurse called "Red Patient" and rushed her back to a gurney. We rounded the corner, me pushing London in her over-sized stroller and the nurse carrying the machines she had just hooked her up to, and that was the first time I've ever seen so many doctors and nurses rushing toward London. They quickly transferred her to a gurney and began suctioning out her airway and placing an IV. I tried my best to stay out of their way and also be close enough that London could hear my voice telling her I was still there. I was thrown about a billion questions at once... what medications is she on? What doses is she getting? When did she last have them? How long has she been having seizures? Has she been sick? Do her seizures always look like that? Has she had any surgeries? How much does she weigh?

I tried just focusing on what needed to be done. London was breathing and her eyes were dilating, but she was unresponsive to all the pokes and commotion. They gave her a bunch a rescue medications, swabbed her sinuses, took chest x-rays, and then it became a waiting game.

They didn't know whether to take her to the ICU or the NTU (Neuroscience/Trauma Unit). The thought of ICU scared me. She's never had to spend time there. But we've spent enough time at the NTU that it didn't seem so intimidating anymore.

We ended up in the NTU around 5 hours after arriving in the ER. I was dead on my feet and thankful that I'd get a few hours of sleep. London was so pumped full of rescue meds that she wasn't seizing anymore.

Long story short, we ended up spending two nights there, counting the night in the ER. After an allergic reaction to a new medicine they wanted to try, we decided to put her back on the temporary one from before. Things were still going well after we got home on Tuesday, but I'm starting to think that's only because she had so much rescue meds running through her body still. I've noticed things starting to go back downhill. I'm trying a few things at home before I do anything else.

Things are a little more stressful with my husband working overseas for the next 4 months (we dropped him off at the airport the day before London went to the ER). Thankfully I have some pretty amazing friends and family that love and support us!

I'll try to update again soon...

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Waiting for your piece of peace

I have been neglectful. I can only imagine that all nine of you out there who read this have been on pins and needles waiting for my next post. Sorry about that.
I've been meaning to post about London's Make-A-Wish experience, I've been meaning to post about guilt, love, real beauty, life lessons, the progress on our forever home dreams, superheroes, and the reasons behind my desire to own a strawberry farm, but apparently I can't sit down and put my thoughts to the keyboard lately. The husband recently volunteered to go to Afghanistan for his work. I've been meaning to talk about that and what it will mean to our family and our plans for a forever home. I think "I've been meaning" has become my most used phrase. And I hate it.

I hate "I've been meaning"...

London has been sick lately and is currently on her third round of antibiotics. Seizures are unpredictable, nights are sleepless, and frustrations are plentiful. I've been trying to work with Kannon on basic preschool lessons, he's had swimming lessons, I've wanted to get things done around the house, organize things for family photos, and sew an ever growing number of quilts... and in this mess that is my life at the moment, I sometimes sit down, stare into space, and just feel irritated.

I hate that I can't make London feel better.

So often, I can't see the beauty in every day, because I'm too frustrated to open my eyes to it.

I'm trying to change that mindset. I'm trying to love the little things and forget about the fact that I can't get Kannon to memorize his address or spell his last name. I'm trying to go easy on myself for not getting the kitchen floor mopped or the dog hair vacuumed off the couch and just live in the moments of taking the kids to the nature center or the dinosaur park. The dishes will still be there when I get back, after all.

Some days are harder than others, but I've learned that raising kids isn't about creating peace by being super-mom with her perfectly polished nails and delicious meals with veggies creatively sneaked in for the kids. It isn't about having a pristine house with windows so clean you'd swear there was no glass there at all or kids rooms so tidy that Martha Stewart herself could drop in unannounced and take photos for her magazine. It has nothing to do with all that crap you find on Pinterest about how to fill up the summer with educational, fun, and overall productive things for kids. No, raising kids isn't about creating that kind of peace.

It's about enjoying the peace that's already there-- unfiltered, raw, and natural. It's about being there in the ways that your child needs, and not in the way that those super-moms dictate to be the best. It's about getting joy from moments, not entire days.

Because let's face it, it's rare that an entire day with children will go exactly as planned, with no whining, fussing, fighting, dirty hand prints, snotty noses, skinned knees, wasted vegetables, poopy diapers, or spilled milk.

But what's guaranteed is something to appreciate in all that chaos.

 Little arms wrapped around your waist, leaving Cheetos fingerprints on your new jeans.

Tiny yawns.

Being told that you're the best mom in the whole world because you allow your kid to have a grape soda.

Watching Frozen for the hundredth time and hearing your preschooler sing the songs to his sister when he thinks you aren't watching.

Finding the other flip-flop.

When your kid dresses himself... is there anything more adorable than basketball shorts, cowboy boots, a long-sleeve tshirt, a winter vest, a tie, sunglasses, and a fedora???

Kids falling asleep on your lap.

Watching Jimmy Fallon clips with your kids because well, they have great taste in late night comedians.

Hearing all about our kids' dreams from the night before.

Hearing your daughter laugh in her sleep.

Bath bubble beards.

You don't have to wait for all the laundry to be done to find peace in your day. Really, when you sit back and just focus on what's in front of you, you can find the peace that comes for free with each tiny human. They all have some to offer- you just have to be open to receiving it, and you have to be willing to receive it even though it's covered in mud and boogers.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Sympathy vs. Empathy

So what is the difference between sympathy and empathy? Is there a difference?
We've probably all been shown both sentiments from others when we are going through a difficult situation, whether we've known the difference or not. Maybe we've all shown those same sentiments ourselves, to our own loved ones during their times of heartbreak...

Google defines SYMPATHY as follows:
1. feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else's misfortune
    the formal expression of pity or sorrow for someone else's misfortune; condolences
2. understanding between people; common feeling
   support in the form of shared feelings or opinions
    agreement with or approval of an opinion or aim; a favorable attitude
   relating harmoniously to something else; in keeping
    the state or fact of responding in a way similar or corresponding to an action elsewhere

Sounds like a pretty good trait to exhibit right? I mean, it all seems lovely, doesn't it?

Google defines EMPATHY as follows:
1. the ability to understand and share the feelings of another

Simple as that.

Really, those two terms seem to be interchangeable when you see them on paper. But in real life situations, I think there's a huge difference between showing sympathy for a person and having empathy for them. (Notice how I said 'showing sympathy' and 'having empathy'? Well, it's because I think sympathy is just that: a big show. But let's get back to those definitions for a second...)

Have you ever had one of those experiences when someone is telling you something or explaining a situation and you can totally tell they are lying because they are just over explaining things? Giving you way too many weightless details and giving the same information over and over using different words? We've all been there, right? That person was probably thinking they sounded really convincing, when in actuality, everything came out more like word vomit. I feel that way about the definition of sympathy. Too much, Google, too much.

On the other hand, think about the definition I got for empathy... Simple. Conclusive. Direct.


If you haven't seen THIS VIDEO about the power of empathy, you've missed out.
She states that "empathy fuels connection, sympathy drives disconnection"
If you're driving down the road and you see a car wreck, and you gawk as you drive by hoping to catch a gory glimpse of carnage for your entertainment, there's no empathy for those people who might be injured. There's no connection there. If, however, you drive by and pray for the safety of those passengers, take a look in the rear view mirror at you kids and thank God for their safety because maybe you've been there, and then make sure you're being a cautious, courteous driver, you've made a connection with those people and what happened to them. No, you didn't have to stop and be the hero that pulls them from the wreckage to make that connection.

But empathy isn't about just seeing someone else's misfortune and learning from it or praying for them. It's about truly putting yourself in their position and sharing that heartache. In the video, she talks about the 4 qualities of empathy: perspective taking, staying out of judgement, recognizing emotions in others, and communicating. Empathy is not only feeling FOR people, it's feeling WITH people, like is explained in the video.

Perhaps my favorite part of that video is when she says, "rarely, if ever, does an empathic response begin with 'at least'" ... In my own situation, I hear this way too often.
"At least Kannon doesn't have it too"
"At least she doesn't have more problems"
"At least she's not in pain all the time"
"At least she can smile a little"
"At least you can make all her choices for her"
"At least she doesn't talk back like my daughter"
"At least you don't have to chase her all over the grocery store"

Another thing I come across all the time, especially over social media, is the one-upping. People try to top your story with their own, in turn, basically calling the attention back to them and leaving you feeling more alone and desperate than before they opened their mouth. No doubt those people want to help you feel better, but it just doesn't work like that. If I am feeling overwhelmed about London having two seizures one night, telling me about your child that has ten seizures per night doesn't help. Yes, there is a certain perspective that can come with me knowing about your child, but it doesn't negate my feelings.

When I had my (very early) miscarriage, I was speaking to a few family members about it and one of them said to me, "I hope it never happens to me" and with that, was pretty much done with the conversation. Was that empathy? No way! She pitied me. Obviously nobody wants heartbreak to come to them; we don't wish for our own misfortune. But to be so casual and flippant about a person's trials is not in any way empathetic.

Don't try to put a silver lining around people's heartache. Share your stories with them, yes. Let them know you have been there, but only if you HAVE been there!
Sharing similar experiences can be helpful, except when it comes from a selfish place. If you want the attention redirected onto you, that's a selfish place. If you are 'one-upping' that person with your more horrific story, that's a selfish place.

Empathy is a little more spiritual, in my opinion; more humble. I don't think empathy can exist without humility. I do believe that sympathy can motivate a lot of good deeds to be done... but the core of those deeds is probably a little on the selfish side; more arrogant... the deed-doer wants to make themselves feel good, and helping the less-fortunate just happens to be a side effect of that.

I could probably never explain things as well as the woman in the video does... but here's my take on it in a nutshell:

Sympathy is REJECTION of a person's situation. We see what they're going through, we can acknowledge it, we can feel sorry for them, but in the end, we let the thought leave our mind because such a sad thing could just never happen to us. We reject that scenario.
Empathy is REACTION to that situation. We see them suffering, we acknowledge it, we make a connection with it, and we share that heartache with them. We help carry the burden. We don't do it because we want to feel good about ourselves by being a hero; we do it only because we feel their emotions as our own.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Incident

Back in December my family and I, along with my parents, my in-laws and my sister and her family were in Salt Lake for my son's dance recital. We decided to grab dinner across the street from the venue. Well, because the place was SO crowded, it took us forever to get, literally, just across the street. We should have just walked, but whatever. Parking was a joke, and both my husband and I were a little short tempered with each other, London needed to be changed and it had just been a long day. When we got inside (finally!) I went to the bathroom to change London's diaper... well, there was no changing table, and I was hardly able to get the wheelchair in there at all. I was so frustrated (really, the drive over there was ridiculous, we were all hungry, and like I said, tense words were spoken!) and I really started to feel like the whole world was out to get me. It seemed like the walls were just creeping closer and closer in a room that was already not made for London and I. So I went back out and, probably rather gruffly, told my husband that we should just go home. I'm sure at this point there were already tears in my eyes, the place was packed, I didn't want to go all the way out to the car to change London in the FREEZING cold (remember, no parking) only to come back in again, and I was probably dehydrated and low on blood sugar. Naturally my bad attitude resulted in some bad attitude given back to me from my husband and since Kannon was already eating (he had gone over with my parents) he challenged me... Which made me feel worse.

I was breaking down and I felt it, and I just wanted to get out of there.

Everyone started 'shh'ing me, and it just wasn't what I needed. I said some extremely bad words, right there at the door of the restaurant, and slammed it on my way out. I needed to go! I felt like I couldn't breathe, I was completely defeated for the day, and I wanted to cry myself to sleep. Thomas came out after me and there were a lot more tense words exchanged. I went back in to get the kids (I was freaking leaving!) and there was more 'shh'ing... my mom and mother-in-law were trying to calm me down and it just wasn't working, Thomas was pretty upset with me (I'm sure he was embarrassed to be with the crazy woman) and I felt like nobody would just let me go.

My mom and mother-in-law got London into the bathroom and, between the two of them, changed London's diaper on the 12 square inches of counter space by the sink. In the meantime, of course, other people are coming in and out of the two-stall bathroom probably thinking to themselves that the woman crying is completely off her rocker and should be institutionalized. So I'm standing in this tiny bathroom, crying, muttering to myself that I just want to go home and have my nervous breakdown, while my mom and MIL are trying to get London taken care of, and there are a few kids coming out of the stalls who will be needing the sink that is not really accessible because of our freak show, and I just want to disappear into a black hole. My mom and MIL are still 'shh'ing me and telling me that everything is ok and all I can do is cry and list the reasons that things aren't ok... like the fact that there's no changing table, or that the bathroom isn't handicap accessible, and that everything is so difficult. Well, those kids who were so kindly (probably out of terror!) waiting for the sink? Their mom was holding the door open (which was behind me) and as I went to leave after London was tucked back into her wheelchair, she said to me, "No, it isn't fair"

And finally someone was just listening.

Instead of trying to fix it, or tell me to calm down, someone just validated my feelings.
(But thank goodness for my mom and MIL doing what they did, too!)

So after all that, we're standing back near the door to the restaurant, sort of blocking the aisle to the tables while I got things shoved back into London's backpack and I hear a woman behind us saying some stuff about blocking the way and standing right in the middle of everything...

It was obvious that she was talking about us. And it was obvious that she didn't care is she was overheard. I bit the insides of my cheeks to keep from totally just flying off the handle on her, when, bless his heart, my father-in-law looked at her and said, "well excuse the shit out of us!" And then all the sudden Big Mouth was changing her tune, feigning confused innocence, and claiming she was talking to her son. Yes, Big Mouth, maybe you were talking to your son, but you were very clearly talking ABOUT me and my handicapped daughter standing between you and your onion rings.

Finally we left. I cried pretty much the entire way home. I hated the situation and I hated myself for letting it get to me. I'm sure I made a scene and embarrassed everyone.

To the woman who agreed that things weren't really fair for moms like me, thank you. You honestly have no idea how much I needed to hear that.

To Big Mouth, you should be ashamed of yourself. I'd be humiliated if my children or spouse said the things you said considering the situation that was painfully obvious right there in front of you. I hope I can teach my kids more tolerance, patience, and empathy than you displayed that night.

Looking back, I'm just grateful that I had my mom and MIL there to take care of things when I obviously couldn't. And I'm glad that my FIL had the guts I didn't have to call Big Mouth out on her comments.
(Apparently Big Mouth went back to her table and told her husband what happened and he asked if she'd like him to go 'kick his ass'... LOL)

So anyway, it was something that happened.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

I Look UP to Single Women With No Kids, and I'm Not Sorry

You've all seen that crazy blog, right? The one written by Amy Glass, who looks down on women who marry and pop out kids, then choose to raise their kids and not go out into the 'real' workforce... She says that women like me (and so many others) are not "on equal footing with a woman who works and takes care of herself". We're simply women who chose the easy path, the common path... that we're average and asks the question, "Why on earth are we settling for average?"

Simply put, like her title says, she looks down on me and those like me.

I'm sure there are more responses to this blog post than I'll ever read, but here's my take on it...

Yes, anyone can get married (assuming we're not going to branch off onto the gay rights issues). We can have children (let's not get into fertility issues either). We can (if we choose to and can make it work) be stay-at-home moms. We can do this before or after we backpack our way through Asia, get a promotion, or land our dream job. We can go to college or not go to college.

She says that "The dominate cultural voice will tell you these are things you can do with a husband and kids, but as I've written before, that's a lie. It’s just not reality."
I say it's not impossible, but yes, definitely more difficult. So does this woman have a problem with the fact that we choose this life at all, or is it all about our timing?

Personally, I wish I had gone out and experienced things before I got married that are much more difficult to do now that I am married. I should have traveled. I should have gone to college. I should have met people and saw things and gone on adventures. I look up to the women who go out and do those things! But I didn't. This is not to say I'd trade my life for another, it's just that I would have done a few more things before I started the life I'm living now. I stayed inside my box, and, according to that woman, I chose the "path of least resistance". Why then, do I feel like my path is full of potholes, obstacles and stormy weather??? I'll tell you why- it's women like her. Moms like me constantly have to battle the judgement that comes when we say we're stay-at-home moms. That's a good chunk of resistance on top of all the other stuff involved in running a household. I'm not going to get into the fact that moms of children with special needs have some extra stress in their lives.

Running a household... This woman apparently hears all about how hard it is to raise kids and run a household, but obviously never from a man because, according to her, "Men don’t care to “manage a household.” They aren’t conditioned to think stupid things like that are “important.”" WOW! In my opinion, a good man, KNOWS the importance of running a household and raising kids. I shudder to imagine the kinds of people she associates with. Who runs her household? 

Who raised her? Her mother? A nanny? A foster parent?? Does she have no respect for the people who raised her with the values that she has, to go out and get a good job and experience everything the world has to offer? Or maybe she had a very difficult childhood and those who raised her don't deserve that respect....

I like to imagine she just twinkled down from a cloud of superiority one bright and sunny day.

She states that "Women will be equal with men when we stop demanding that it be considered equally important to do housework and real work. They are not equal. Doing laundry will never be as important as being a doctor or an engineer or building a business. This word play is holding us back" 
I agree a bit here... the clothes that I clean every day are not nearly as important as the lives that a neurosurgeon saves every day. But guess what- that kid I'm washing clothes for, he might one day be in the operating room saving lives. I bet the majority of people this woman considers to be 'important' and 'successful' owe a lot of thanks to their moms. And I bet they're not sorry for it. 

In case you're wondering, Amy Glass, I do hope I can raise my kids to go out and achieve greatness. I want to push the importance of a college education and seeing the world. I also want to push the importance of family and raising children. I want my kids to be open to new things, to think outside of the box, and to have a strong moral foundation. But you probably don't care because I'm just a lowly housewife who has no right to address you.

Let me reiterate: I don't regret having my children or making the choice to stay at home and raise them. I do think it would have been an amazing thing to look back on my life, however, and see accomplishments like going to college or traveling to foreign lands. 

Where would we be without mothers? Where would we be without women who are willing to sacrifice their bodies, their time, their personal space, their money, and, so often, their very DREAMS, all in the name of LoVe??? 

I'm not saying moms who choose to work or have to work to make ends meet are not those kinds of givers. I think moms who work outside the home are incredible! A single mom who works outside the home?? She's Supermom.

I'm also not saying that women who choose to never have children are selfish. They might spend their spare time volunteering or mentoring. Maybe they rescue homeless kittens on the weekends. I'm sure there are plenty of them out there who are selfless beyond belief. 

I think as moms, as women, we simply do the best we can no matter our situation. We do what we feel is right. What's best for one woman isn't ideal for the next. Nobody handles the exact same situation in the exact same manner- because get this: we're all DIFFERENT! Instead of ridiculing our peers for their personal choices, let's celebrate them! Let's lift each other up!

Have you ever heard the quote:

Promote it Amy, but don't bash those of us who are on the other side of things. We're doing important work too. I don't know what you do for a living (I'm guessing you're a doctor or an engineer or a business owner), but guess what I do...

I'm above and beyond just average... 
I shape a small part of the future.

 Top that.