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I got the Pinterest guilt

I haven’t written in awhile. Life picked up the pace on me. Work got busy, birthdays came and went, the weather got nice. During all that, Stampy and I have been having some quality time. I guess you can say I’ve been too busy living my life to write about it. But something happened to me today that I feel has happened to others, so I thought I would share. I felt the Pinterest guilt.

Tomorrow is Charlie’s Easter party at school and I’m one of the party moms. Naturally, I volunteered, or really stated, that I would bring the snack. Being the mom of a food allergy kid means I will always “volunteer” for that job. Up until today, I just assumed I would make cupcakes with pastel Eastery colored frosting. That sounded easy. I didn’t search recipes online or in cookbooks, I just planned on making chocolate cupcakes. Then today hit. I started at work at 7:30am, managed to finish up with just enough time to drive the mile to Molly’s school to for our parent/teacher conference, then to home for a quick lunch and out the door for a play date. Once we got home I was just too pooped to make cupcakes and frosting. So, I headed to Pinterest. Big mistake. Huge. After looking at numerous fun sweet treat options, I came to the conclusion that I didn’t have the time, energy or ingredients to make anything other than cupcakes or brownies. Brownies were the easier choice so BAM! brownies it was. Only something happened after I decided. I kept thinking that brownies just weren’t enough. How could I make brownies better? How could they be more Easter-y? I literally spent a good ten minutes contemplating this fact and starting to feel worse and worse about my decision to bake brownies.

Luckily, I snapped back into reality. I felt bad about making homemade brownies. I realized I hit a new level of crazy. A new level of mom-perfection guilt. I’m not even sure who I was trying to impress with anything. I’m taking food to twelve 2-3 year olds. I’m pretty sure that they don’t care what they get. I could probably give them anything that contained chocolate and/or sugar and they would be happy. So, I made brownies. Delicious, gooey, chocolately brownies. And I feel good about it.

I will continue to internet hoard though, because I do love Pinterest.

3 weeks, the non-yelling continues

Sort of. Well, I’ve yelled 3 times. But only twice at the kids, once was really to no one in general. Maybe it was towards Stampy, but it was more I’m-having-a-nervous-breakdown-and-no-one-is-listening-to-me yell/cry. 

Either way, the bigger part is that I’m learning ways to control my mood when things really start to irk me and I feel like I’m losing control. These past 3 weeks have also taught me what really pushes my buttons and makes me want to start yelling at the kids. I now know what I need to learn to control. 

I need to control my urge to be on time. Nothing gets me riled up faster than being late. I hate being late. I hate when people are late in general. It’s probably one of my biggest pet peeves. Want to put me in a bad mood, show up late. Of course a 3 and a 5 year old have no sense of time. At all. None. Since I’ve stopped yelling, we are now consistently one of the last people showing up for school which means my blood pressure is consistently up before 9 AM. It’s a good thing we live a half mile away or we’d be much later since I’ve been buckling my kids in to their car seats when we should be there. Today we were actually early, but Molly sat in time out twice before we got there. 

I need to watch Full House reruns more. That Danny Tanner rarely loses his temper, he has a lot of patience and good advice. I didn’t realize that back in the early 90s. I also didn’t realize how bad the fashions were. Nick at Nite is really good at reminding us what not to wear.

I need to exercise more. I really try to make it a priority but with work and 2 kids, it sometimes takes a back burner. However, I am much more relaxed and calm after a 3 mile run. I’m also too tired to fight. Yoga just makes me realize that things aren’t so bad. At least the kids aren’t asking me to bind while squatting.

The tickle monster needs to visit more. Really, you want to choose 5 minutes before walking to the car to argue about getting a cowgirl hat? That’s fine, I can’t hear you over the tickle monster. You don’t want to brush your teeth?? That’s ok, the tickle monster will do it. He doesn’t mind your silent crying and thrashing.

With a little over 3 weeks to go, I think I’m going to make it! Probably not without yelling again, but at this point at least the kids now know that when I yell, I mean business. Plus, I’m Italian. We yell sometimes. It happens.

Why I’m not worried about Frozen

We’ve been hit by the Frozen bug here. Frozen songs, Frozen the movie, Frozen the book, Frozen the YouTube videos, it’s everywhere. Why, because my son LOVES it. He can’t get enough. I have read him our book at least three dozen times in the past 3 days. I have seen the YouTube video of Let It Go more times that I can count today and I’m bombared with “let’s watch Frozen” morning noon and night. Never once did I think that watching it might turn either of my children inot homosexuals. That is, until last week.

This topic was brought up to me by a patient that had heard a pastor on the radio talking about how Disney has created a movie to endoctrinate our children into homosexuality. Later that day I found a friend had posted this article from Huffington Post and I started to dig into this line of thinking. I mean, seriously, how did I miss this message? Oh, right, because I took the movie at face value and not at some underlying plot theme. Also because I was probably cleaning while the kids were entertained so I wasn’t paying much attention. I sat down the next time with them to watch it. I didn’t want to miss out on some contraversial movie!

Then I started to think, “well, this does make sense. I could see how you could correlate Elsa’s struggle to that of a gay child”. And there was the shop keeper with a husband. And Elsa did turn fabulous after accepting herself. And Olaf did kind of have a lisp and was pretty happy…. However, that being said I don’t think the movie could possibly turn my child into a homosexual or that my child would even get that message.

Why?

Because my kids don’t know what “gay” or “homosexual” means. The other week I heard them asking Stampy if he “loved the girls or the boys” to which he replied “I love your mommy most, but there are boys and girls I love” to have Charlie retort “No, Daddy, you love the boys”. Obviously, we might need to sit them down and explain things to them. Or, Charlie finally solved the “Is Stampy gay” riddle. Either way, they are 3 and 5, I think they are fine in thinking that love is love.

Then there is the fact that these kids that can’t make the connection of hearing “dinner’s ready” to understanding that they need to go to the table to eat it. These are children that need every step verbalized and accounted for. Literally, every step. Phrases like “clean up” are too general for them to comprehend so how could they ever see and underlying point in a cartoon movie?? They can’t. To prove this point, I asked Molly what the movie was about. After all this is the same little girl that answered the question “why do you guys have to make everything so difficult?” with an answer of “because we are little” so I figured if any child could figure this out she could. In the end I was left more concerned by her becuase she didn’t even think the movie was about sisters. She said it was a wintertime movie. Clearly, the homosexual messages have been lost on her. 

But mostly, I don’t worry about my kids becoming homosexual after watching Frozen 8,000 times becuase for the basic fact of you don’t become that way. They either are or they aren’t. Plain and simple. And honestly, if they have a character that they can attach to and become confindent from, good for them. Good for Disney for putting it out there. I’m more than happy so see a strong, empowered role model. Especially a female one.

And this is one of the few movies where the villian doesn’t die. He just gets punched in the face and then exiled. There’s something to be said for that fact as well. Or am I the only one that noticed that?  In most Disney movies, the stand off between good and evil ends with evil being slayed, or jabbed with a jagged edge of a boat, or hung by vines in the jungle. I could go on and on. I was a teenager when the whole Little Mermaid, Lion King and Aladdin scandals broke. I had seen all those movies more times than I could count and you know how many times I noticed a penis? None. None times. How many times did I see “sex” spell out in the dust made by Simba? None. I also never really heard Aladdin instruct teenagers to take off their clothes, but I digress.

So, I will continue to enjoy the smile on Charlie’s face as he bolts out “Let it grow” at the top of his lungs knowing full well that Charlie will be who he will be and Molly will be who she will be. No matter if they watch Frozen or Transformers Rescue Bots (Molly’s favorite show) or any other show that they become obsessed with.

We are off to a rocky start

Four days. I made it four. long. days. 

When I put it like that, those that don’t know me must think I’m some lunatic, bat-shit-crazy mom that just screams at her kids all day.

I promise, I’m not. 

Some days I’m just at the end of my rope and internally pleading for the ability to do one thing without a child openly disagreeing with whatever that decision may be. Yesterday, on day 4, that decision that was ludricus was going outside to play in the 50 degree sunny weather after a winter of gray, snow and below freezing temperatures. I know, it was a bad idea. The work it took to get my kids outside for some sunshine was exhausting. I would’ve given up, only we’ve been trapped in doors for so long and I had an errand to do shortly so we had to leave the house anyway.

That wasn’t what made me yell yesterday.

It was actually a lot of things.

It was the lack of sleep I had the night before which made my patience short on a day I needed it the most. It was the constant battling to get the tiniest thing accomplished. It was the continuing education course I was trying to work on and the video wasn’t playing. It was the 2 week period of atrocious bedtimes. It was the fact that my partner was gone and I couldn’t tap out. It was everything. So after an hour of back and forth over every little thing imaginable, I lost it, yelled and sat her in time out for the umpteenth time that day. That time was the only time that it changed her behavior and mine. She shaped up, went right to bed afterwards. First time in 2 weeks she fell asleep before 9 PM. 

I would feel bad about it, normally I do, but we had a 9,000x better day today and bedtime tonight. So, maybe in that instance it did some good. At least that’s what I’m going to tell myself as we head into another week. With a time change. Awesome. 

40 Days without yelling

Starts now! Well… tomorrow.

Although this Catholic girl may not go to church every Sunday (or any, really) it doesn’t take away from part of my heritage. The Catholic part. The part that taught me every year for 40 days I need to give up meat on Fridays and sacrifice something to make me a better person. I always have a hard time deciding what to give up because if I give up the simple I feel like I haven’t grown in those 40 days and if I’m going to give something up for 40 days, I should get something out of it. To date one of the hardest things I have given up was parmesan cheese. It sounds ridiculous, I know, but this girl has a cheese problem. That little green bottle of “cheese dust” (as Molly calls it) gets put on way too much food. It was a sacrifice!

This year I decided on something that not only will help me shape a new habit but it will rid me of an old one and maybe make my house a happier place. I’m not going to yell, especially at the kids, for 40 days. Not that I yell at them non-stop. Far from it. I’m actually surprised how much patience I’ve gained over the past couple of years, but there are still the moments that I have crossed my threshold and the yelling starts. Unfortunately, I tend to go straight to Jerry Springer guest once the yelling starts. I’m sure it’s not pretty and it’s not what I want my kids to remember, because I know they won’t remember the 30 minutes of carrying on because I accidentally threw away some sacred piece of string they were saving but they will remember how mom just flipped out over nothing. I now understand why my mom once told me “I hope you choke on it!” as I continued to eat snacks before dinner. 

The bigger question is, how do i do this? The answer… I have no idea. I’m hoping some breathing, “mommy time outs” and exercise will keep me going. I also hope that it helps change the dynamic of our house as Stampy is joining in on the challenge. If nothing else I have a built in support system until Easter.

Do you give anything up for Lent? What would your biggest challenge be?

A letter from a picky eater to a picky eater

My Dearest Daughter, 

You might not know this about your mother, but I was once a picky eater. I once ate spaghetti without sauce, only ate chicken nuggets at restaurants, and would not let a green vegetable pass by my lips. I gagged at all seafood (still do) and I thought chilli was the worst food ever. There were many foods I thought were awful without even trying. Brussell sprouts and mushrooms were on that list. I hated the smell of green peppers cooking and I didn’t eat mayo until… well, I still don’t eat that. I was lied to about ingredients in dishes and your Noni told me that she put chicken in the tuna noodle casserole. I didn’t fall for it. I still don’t eat beans, but that’s probably for the best. I had a brother that ate everything, I hated being compared to him.

It wasn’t until college that I ventured into the food world. When I did, I couldn’t believe that I had missed out on wheat bread for so long. I don’t know if it was the fact that I had roommates that ate different foods, or the fact that I wanted to fit in, or that I was older or that I was exposed to new foods, but I learned that the worst that could happen is that I wouldn’t like it and then I didn’t have to eat it again. Since then I’ve discovered fresh vegetables, pesto, chorizo, and NUTELLA! I was too scared to eat nutella. That was just insane. It will be another several years before I actually develop a healthy relationship with food and the girl that is still made fun of for asking “how do I boil water?”, is now the woman baking your bread, roasting your chicken, braising beef short ribs, making soup from scratch and growing vegetables. 

My point is, I understand. I empathize. I know your anxiety of new foods and your reluctance to eat. I get it. And after twenty years of stressful meal times I don’t plan on starting that up again. Some people will make fun of you, some will call me a bad mom, and some just won’t understand how you couldn’t possibly love shrimp. That’s ok. You’ll come around in your own time. Until then I’m going to put a green bean or a piece of beef on your plate because I won’t know if today is the day you will change your mind. I will do my best to serve you nutritious food that include foods that you will eat and occasionally I will ask you to try something new. I might even forget sometimes and press the issue. I’m your mom, I’m allowed to make mistakes if I feel it’s for your own good.

Love, 
Mom

P.S. Your father was a picky eater too, I think he turned out alright too.

Good friends, good food, good wine

Sometimes you only need one of the above, and sometimes you need all three. Yesterday was a day I needed all three. I didn’t see my breakdown coming. Usually I do. Usually I’m at the end of my rope, exhausted and it’s been building for days. I was not prepared for today. I’ve really reached a point where I comfortable with who I am and who Molly is. There are definitely days that are harder for others, but I understand her, I’m ok with just her being her.

There is however, the “A” word that hangs over us. Austism. There are times when I don’t need a diagnosis, why would it matter? We have the therapies we need, we have support, but we don’t have closure. It’s hard to gain acceptance for something you don’t have. Earlier this week I spoke with a mother of a child with autism and had a rude awakening. She asked very specific behavior questions all which I answered “yes” to. Never once did she hint that Molly was autistic, but I knew these were the same challenges she faced with her child. That was a hard day. No diagnosis also means I can stick my head in the sand and ignore what is often staring me in the face.

I was up half the night with the kids. First half of the night with Molly, second with Charlie. I’ll admit it, I was tired.

I wasn’t prepared for our playdate. In fact, I was underprepared. We were going to a familiar house, with familiar friends, what could go wrong?? We just went a birthday party and Molly didn’t even notice if I was there, she played happily with her school friends. And that is where I failed and that is why her quirkiness left us sitting in a chair crying. We may have gone to a familiar house but not everyone was familiar and Molly, well, she just couldn’t find her place. It was loud, there was a lot going on, she wasn’t quite old enough for the girls and was too much of a girl for the boys and she felt alone. Her inability to survive in the chaos echoed loud and clear into my heart and I wanted to help her, I wanted her to have fun, I didn’t want to be in the same place we always are and I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t bring headphones, I didn’t have a suggestion that was suitable and I couldn’t go bossing around kids to play with her. I hate being in this situation. And while I was trying to hold myself together and figure out what to do next, I had help. I didn’t ask for it, but I got a hug and it was all I needed to break down and start crying. Then I got another pair of arms to hold the crying four year old girl and then I started crying more because it was nice to have help. And it felt great to just be loved.

Then I remembered there was a mom there I had only known for twenty minutes. And then another new mom came through the door. And then I felt slightly silly. They don’t know our struggles, they didn’t realize we had come so far and I was frustrated to be back at the starting point again, but we are all moms and we all struggle so I felt blessed that neither blinked an eye or skipped a beat. We poured ourselves some wine, started munching on some yummy food and I pulled myself together through great conversation.

It warms my heart to know we are both being raised in a community of acceptance and love. (and wine)

10 Ways 30-Something Parties are not 20-Something Parties

Over the weekend I got the chance to live it up in honor of two of my oldest friends. It had been a long time since we had a big joint birthday get together for the two them. In fact, it’s probably been since high school. As I sit here 24 hours after nursing a massive hangover, I’m realizing that a lot of things have changed since high school. Or even going to parties in my twenties. So, I’ve compiled my list of how hanging out with my friends now has changed in the past 15 years. 

  1. Hangovers. At what point did I switch from being able to down some Gatorade and ibuprofen to not being able to stomach even water? I was pretty sure I was going to die for about the first 8 hours I was awake yesterday and I drank probably a fourth of what I would have at 24 years old.
  2. I googled a bar to make sure it had food. My 20-something year old self would not have been so concerned about eating to keep myself from turning into a hot mess. Yet, some how I still did.
  3. Birds and Babies. Now, with so many of us married and procreating there is always someone that brings their child. We’ve been that couple. Sometimes it’s worth it to see your friends. But who brings a bird?? Apparently 30-something parties people bring birds. Then get mad if you touch it.
  4. Dancing. I can remember dancing a lot in my 20’s. That doesn’t happen anymore. There was music, but no moves.
  5. Ending times. It is now acceptable to leave a party before 11 PM and sober. Not that I did that, but other people did.
  6. Sleeping arrangements. Now it’s hotels or going home. No longer sleeping on a floor with a towel for a blanket is deemed appropriate.
  7. Drinks. At some point 30 packs of Bud Light and a bottle of Arbor Mist have switched to 6 packs of “nice” beer and bottles of fancy wine. 
  8. Bathroom Trips. We have moved far from the group ventures to the bathroom. Apparently since we are moms now we relish the moment we get to pee alone.
  9. Party games. No beer pong or flip cup or cards. 
  10. Walk of shame. Instead of going home in the same clothes, it is leaving the hotel in your pjs pants (hangover) and boots because you can’t pack while kids are distracting you.

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When the going gets tough

We’ve had a tough week. That might even be an understatement. In the past week I have been bitten multiple times, scratched, punched, kicked and had my hair pulled out. 

I wasn’t kidding. It was tough.

Oddly, I don’t feel that these are the times that test me as a parent. 

It’s easy to be patient and empathetic when your child is suffering. When she is so far gone that rational thinking is in another universe there isn’t much you can do but be patient. Also, two irrationally angry people rarely make good decisions. So I show her empathy hoping that she learns how to react when you are upset. I show that I love her at her worse. I show her forgiveness. 

Then I get the little girl that sat next to me at church this morning. Out of her element, unsure of her surroundings, scared, but holding my hand and snuggling into my leg. She didn’t let go the entire time. Although she rarely verbalizes her love, she embraces me when she’s scared and lets me know that she feels secure with me.

That’s when I know that I’ve made good decisions. It’s these moments that will give me the patience the next time things get tough.

 

Living for the now

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Shortly after Charlie was born I started attending a yoga class. It was one hour on Sunday and I loved that hour. I could even say that I lived for it. I had a newborn and a 2 year old, so needless to say I had no time to myself other than that class. That hour was all about that hour. I didn’t think about what I had to do after, I didn’t think about what was going on at home and I didn’t think about anything that had happened preceding the class. It was all about the present time. After 2 1/2 years I realized something about yoga, not only do I live for that moment but I don’t criticize myself, I work hard, and I’m proud of what I accomplished. Sometimes it’s just finishing the class without falling on my face. 

This doesn’t carry over to real life.

I want that to change. 

In real life we are a family that is constantly on the go. I spend my days constantly thinking about what is next. What time someone has to get picked up, what appointment is coming up, when bedtime is, and in doing that I don’t get to enjoy the present moment. I don’t worry about an upcoming Reverse Triangle while breathing in Child’s Pose, why should I worry about the future in real life?

I find myself overwhelmed by cleaning things out. Therefore, nothing gets cleaned out. I worry that the crew from Hoarders will show up at my house but still I can’t let go of things. I find sentiment in everything that I’ve ever done. I made connections with any outfit my kids donned. In doing this, I can’t truly enjoy what is in front of me because I yearn for what has passed. Yet while I’m trying to balance in Crow there are no thoughts of the previous Downward Dog. That would be silly because I need to focus on not falling over right then and there. So, why can’t I focus on the present and what I need to achieve happiness today?

I need to appreciate myself in the present the same way in real life I do on the mat. I need to give myself a break in real life. It’s ok that my kids don’t eat picture perfect meals the same way it’s ok that my hamstrings are as tight as a board. It’s ok that I’m not crafty the same way it’s ok that I can’t bind. Yoga is much easier if I breathe, I’m sure life would be easier if I breathed once in awhile and just appreciated the way it feels to be completely centered. 

As I come away from a difficult couple of days, I realize that I need to incorporate my yoga beliefs into real life. I need to see every moment for what it is, good or bad, difficulty or easy, busy or relaxing. Not everything has to be perfect but it is real and real is good.