Saturday, July 31

Impromptu Picnics

This is a picture of a little impromptu morning picnic next to a Starbucks parking lot...seriously, you can't see it here, but we are on a rather long strip of grass at the far end of a parking lot.

We were supposed to be blueberry picking. I actually had promised my grandmother I'd bring her fresh blueberries when we went out to visit her for dinner Friday night AND I promised two neighboring families homemade blueberry pie this coming Sunday evening.

Friday morning we got all dressed, packed diaper bags, got in the car, drove 20 minutes away out to the blueberry farm and lo and behold we pull up to the driveway and see a big hand-painted sign that says:


I sat there for a minute processing that sign...

"Wait a minute..." I thought. "Is today Friday? No, it can't be!! I mean we're here to pick blueberries. I dragged my 18 mo. old and 3 year old out of the house to pick blueberries for their neighbors and great-grandmother. YOU CAN'T BE CLOSED TODAY!" 

But, alas, they were. 

I drove several miles to the closest shopping area and saw a sign at the road for a Super-Cuts. 

"Perfect," I thought. "Ava needs a haircut anyway!"

Would you believe we pulled up to the door of that Super Cuts and there was a big fat sign in the window that said: 


Now I'm beginning to think that there is some sort of global vendetta out against any plans I might have for the day! 

Fortunately, there was a Starbucks in that very plaza and Aunt KK and Connie were scheduled to meet us to take Ella to a Rollie Pollie (a gymboree type class) within half an hour. We got a apple bran muffin, I got a soy latte and we pulled this beach blanket out and hung out on the grass until they arrived. 

I won't lie, it was kind of fun. 

Ava and Ella alternated at Rollie Pollie with Connie while KK and I took the other girl to a local park and stopped by a farm stand to purchase already picked fresh blueberries for the pie and for my grandmother. 

It was one of those days in which little went as planned in our early morning, in the end, I wouldn't have changed a thing. 

Carpe Diem! 

Thursday, July 29

A Mother's Time: So Rarely Her Own

I cut this out of the paper on Sunday...while I may have not visited the beach recently this picture is SO my life...Yours too? 

The funniest thing was that this morning, Scott gave me a "free time" pass while he made breakfast for the girls. I grabbed my computer, ran upstairs to our bedroom and geared up to start writing this blog post. Not more than two minutes into my opening my computer and getting ready to blog away I hear little footsteps up the stairs...

Those little footsteps pushed open my door, grabbed a picture book off the floor and dear sweet Ella looked up at me and said, "Book, book, book." 

How could I turn her down? Her sister is ALWAYS demanding my attention... wanting books read, or puzzles done, or help with a game, or coloring project...Sometimes I feel like poor little Ella gets so little of my time that when she came up and said, "Book" this morning, a mommas heart could do nothing other than read her a book. 

And then send her downstairs to her father! 

I'm sure all of you have similar stories...Of babysitters coming over and the things we end up doing for our children instead of ourselves! 

We have a babysitter over every Wednesday for a couple of hours. A new girl who lives across the street came over for two hours this week...What did I spend the first 45 minutes doing? 

Prepping lunch so that she could feed the girls, going through the routine with her, putting laundry in and then picking up the trail of cookie crumbs that led all the way up our stairs to the bathroom and putting some of the clothing and toys away that lined our upstairs landing lest anyone trip and fall (it had gotten pretty messy!). 

I did have a little writing time, and reading time and time to just find my thoughts again...which was good...which was needed. I find that I'm such an introspective, heady person that if I don't have some to digest what is going on in my head I get really crabby! 

I love Bil Keane and his Family Circus cartoons. I remember reading them as a young girl (I would grab the comics every Sunday and read through them all- Family Circus was always one of my favorite)  and now I truly appreciate them as an adult and a mother. 

Keane hits the nail on the head here...and what I love most, is that by capturing a moment like this in the spirit of "comical" I find some encouragement and a reminder that I, though often frustrated that I don't have more "me" time, am certainly far from alone. If the struggle wasn't universal Bil Keane's pictures would not resonate like that do. 

So to all you mommies, a reminder that your not the only one who only has one page read in you book! We're all on the same beach together!  

Wednesday, July 28

D-Day 2

Day 2 of the diet here and I'm feeling pretty good!

My husband said in the 10 years he has known me this is the most committed he's ever seen me in regards to losing some weight and changing my eating habits.

(If you're wondering about this picture it is of a great big bounty of Mint that I pulled from my friends Kurt and Sarah's garden! Kurt is the very person who when I asked casually if they thought my losing a couple of pounds would help me to run faster, Kurt disappeared into his garage and reappeared several minutes later with two 8 lb. dumbells.

"Do you think if I told you to run your next 1/2 marathon carrying these that it would slow you down," he asked.

Oh boy. Point taken.

Thanks Kurt!)

Back to the diet. I won't lie and say it's been totally easy, but I do feel empowered in the choices I'm making and I've already learned a lot in the process.

Scott worked from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m. last night. The combination of a long day alone with the girls, a tiring morning trip to the zoo and cutting my caloric intake from close to 2,000 a day to just over 1,200,  made me pretty crabby (preparing spaghetti and meatballs for the girls last night while I ate plain fish, green beans and the tiniest portion of red potatoes I've EVER seen didn't help matters!)...I couldn't even talk to Scott when he walked in the door last night. He rubbed my feet which was about the sweetest thing he could do and I was sleeping by 10:30 (quite early for me lately).

So despite being hungry and feeling like I had fasted all day (!) what has been the upside?

CALORIES. I am learning a LOT about calories: how many I typically eat, how many I SHOULD have, and where the extras are coming from. Seriously, I can't believe I hat 1,300 calories yesterday, it really felt like 300. I've been living under the delusion that I probably was only eating like 1,800 calories a day before, but after yesterday I realized I was WAAAYYY off. I've probably been 2,000+ on a daily basis...

I also realized where it is all coming from...I had to stop myself numerous times yesterday as I was helping the girls with their meals and in preparing their meals...I was CONSTANTLY about to put stuff in my mouth-- parts of their sandwiches, leftover crackers, etc.

Also, in eating so plainly (no butter, sauces, salts, etc. these first few days) it dawned on me how much butter, salt, dressing and misc. extras I add to my food on a regular basis.

My brother (a manager and trainer at a local gym) told me this morning that to maintain a healthy weight someone of my size needs:

  • Just under 1,400 calories a day if you are completely inactive (all the more reason for me to run!)
  • Right around 2,000 a day if you are pretty active on a regular basis (exercise that is!)
  • and to lose a lb. a week I would need to cut my caloric intake by about 500 calories a day (down to around the 1,500-1,600 mark). 
SODIUM. There are CRAZY amounts of sodium in a lot of the food we eat-- particularly lunch meat! 
My lunch today called for 4 oz. of turkey breast, a cup of steamed carrots and a string cheese. I went to the store to find low sodium turkey breast and found out some surprising things! 

The "Natural", nitrate free Hormel turkey that I often give the girls has 460 mg. of sodium per serving (20% of your daily allowance)...BUT that serving is about 2 oz....the diet was calling for 4 oz. of turkey, which would have meant that I would have gotten 40% of a days sodium and close to 1,000 m.g. at one sitting had I eaten that turkey!

Soooo, I tortured the lady at the deli counter this morning...I asked to see the labels on like 4 different types of turkey! I wanted low sodium and nitrate free if possible...we finally found one that had 330 mg. per 2 oz. serving...I'm still not thrilled, but it was the best I could find this morning...

lesson wonder we all walk around feeling bloated!!

Lastly, for the fun of it, I looked of the health benefits of the ingredients in the "Sassy Water" (see yesterdays post)...As my friend Sarah said, it does not sound appetizing, but it is really not bad! The flavor of the ginger root was the hardest part for me to get used to but after a couple of glasses I was fine with it...

So, here goes, health benefits of ginger, mint, lemon and cucumber! 

  • Ginger: Aid diegestion, improves circulation (reducing blood sugar) and lowers bad cholesterol. 

  • Lemon: improves many stomach issues including IBS, heartburn and bloating, acts as a blood purifier, is good for the skin, is a cleansing agent for all of your insides and aids digestion by working as a liver tonic.

  • Mint: revitalizes the senses, improves central nervous system functioning, is an incredible antioxidant (people use it to help cure cancer!), relieves indigestion and bloating, can help clear skin, and relieves congestion. It can easily be thrown in soups, meat dishes, or chocolate sauces or added to tea! Plus, it is a perennial, which means if you stick it in your garden this year it will keep coming back! 

  • Cucumber: simply soothing for digestion and good for the skin as well. 

There you have it! 

I hope I haven't bored you all...I'm sure you prefer to read about my children ending up at church without shoes and (gasp!) underwear! No worries, I'm sure there is more of that to come! 

Tuesday, July 27

D-Day ("D" As in Diet, That Is...)

So, I started a diet today. An "Official' diet. The "Flat Belly Diet". Sounds nice, a flat belly, doesn't it?

I thought so.

I've never actually dieted before...I've thought about it, sometimes so intently for several days in a row, enough to convince myself that I was legitimately doing something to lose the leftover 10+ baby pounds that have been hanging around since after my first pregnancy.

I've even cut calories and limited things like sugar and carbs for a couple of days...all in the name of dieting...tricking myself into believing I was really doing something about the weight, but guess what?

It hasn't gone away...

See, my problem is not that I don't exercise, I actually enjoy exercise...I just ran a 1/2 marathon in May for heaven's sake. It's not that I eat really crappy food all the time. Most people who know me would tell you I eat TONS of fruits and vegetables-- even things like brussel sprouts-- without so much as a second thought.

My problem is I LOVE food! I LOVE to eat. I have NO portion control and I really, really, REALLY love all things carbohydrate; pasta, potatoes, pasta, rice, pasta, bread, did I say PASTA?!! AND, on top of it I REALLY love cheese...and LOTS of flavored creamer in my coffee everyday. I also LOVE to snack...especially after a really long day, which means after the girls are in bed, which means sometimes I'm making things like ham sandwiches at 9:30 at night (or eating chips and dip which is my ultimate guilty pleasure reserved for the the worst last Thursday evening!).

In addition to LOVING food, I HATE to feel makes me really cranky.

You can see how these things would likely cause a weight loss dilemma.

So, even when I was running, running, running to get ready for the 1/2 marathon I only lost maybe 3 lbs. because I would eat more because I was hungry more often.

Basically, the amount I eat + the amount I run/exercise balances out to have kept me at the same stinking 137-140 lbs. since three months or so after Ella was born...As a 5'1 female, 120-125 is a much better weight for me.

Over the last couple of months I've been reading about different diets-- waiting to see if there was one that seemed intriguing and didn't force me to drink shakes all day long or give up carbs completely...I came across the "Flat Belly Diet" book at Target one night and the recipes in the book sounded SO yummy and the plan sounded so practical that I decided to give it a try. I also got the Family Cookbook which is loaded with great recipes as well.

The first four days are called the "Anti-Bloat" jumpstart and are the strictest part of the diet...and though today hasn't been easy and I'm STARVING right now (and have actually cheated by eating 2 rice cakes with mustard after dinner (not a part of the diet, just the only 'cheat' I could come up with that I didn't feel  bad about!)). The purpose is to rid your body of all things bloating (excess salt, to much lactose, wheat, caffeine, soda's, alcohol, etc.), therefore giving you a little jumpstart on feeling thinner and some motivation to keep going.

The problem is this first 4 days restricts you to about 1,200 calories! The rest of the diet is 1,600 a day.

Did I mention that I HATE to feel hungry? And that I AM!

My only consolation is that this part of the diet only lasts 4 days and then we're onto bigger, better, and yummier things!

I'll let you know how it goes!

As part of the 4-day anti-bloat regimen the authors require you to make what they call "Sassy Water"-- not only does it have a more interesting taste than regular water but it is FULL of things that help calm your stomach and therefore help to rid bloat!

Here is the recipe for Sassy Water if you want to give it a try-- I plan on continuing to drink it after the diet is over because it is pretty yummy and is pretty good for your belly.

Sassy Water

2 liters of water (about 8 1/2 cups)
1 tsp freshly grated ginger root (found in the produce department- I find it near other root vegetables)
1 med. cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
1 med. lemon thinly sliced
12 mint leaves

mix it all together in a pitcher the night before and stick in the fridge...drink throughout the day!

Friday, July 23

Double the Trouble, Double the Fun

"ELLA. NO!!! That is MINE" (Any given book, toy or general household object at any given moment of the day. Usually an object that Ava has NEVER had an interest in until Ella is holding it).

"ELLA. NO!!! YOU ARE NOOOOTTTT ALLLOWWEDD to DO THAT!" (a response to Ella climbing up stairs, opening toilets, trying to climb onto the kitchen table, trying to sit on her sister's doll house....)

"ELLA. NO. NO. NO. NO NO" (Just a general frequent cry of anguish which can emerge at any point during the day). 

The above are snippets of the dialogue in my house MANY moments, every day, all day long. I won't lie, it drives me a little crazy, but sibling rivalry is par for the course once there is more than one child, a.k.a. a sibling.  

Ella is into EVERYTHING and Ava is 3 which makes her the police of all things hers and all things Ella should not be doing (according to Ava). 

So, if you were to ask me, "Lisa, what is one of the major differences in your life now that you have two children?" 

Part of my response would include that added to all of the other hats you wear as a mom, referreeing is the newest role that I did not expect to have to play-- at least not so soon (I thought it came when they start fighting over clothing in their teenage years!). 

After Ava says "NO" to Ella on most occasions there is screaming on Ella's part because she is at the age where she hates to hear the word "NO" and she is realizing that she doesn't like her sister to be the boss of her (which her sister often thinks she is!) she is starting to cry and swat and scream back in retaliation. 

Then there are the moments when Ava will tell me point blank that she just intentionally physically harmed her sister in some way at which point Ella is often usually crying as well. Those moments usually start like this:

Me: Quietly having snuck away for 10 minutes to get dressed, or clean the kitchen or put a little make-up on so that I don't scare friends and family who might stop by the house, will usually hear nothing for the first 7 minutes and then, almost always, a loud anguished cry coming from Ella...

"AAAVVVAAAA! What did you do to your sister?!!!" 

"I kicked her." (Or hit her, or pushed her...yesterday it happened to be "kick")

That is literally what she said to me...Ella was trying to walk up the stairs from our backyard into our house right behind Ava which Ava did not like because Ella was obviously too close. 

"You what?" I had to make sure I heard that right...I mean, you don't usually say so matter of factly, like you might if you were telling someone you just ate dinner or had a glass of lemon-aid, that you kicked another family member. 

"I kicked her."

"Up to your room NOOOOWWW!" 

Ava usually doesn't so much as even bat an eye to my sending her up to her room for these things because she knows what she did was wrong...apparently the impulse was just to strong to care. 

There are other ways life has changed as well. While having two may not mean "double" the work per se (I'm already cooking meals, doing laundry, and cleaning the house ANYWAY ,what is one more mouth to feed or person to clean up after?), there are double the requests throughout the day, double the sippy cups that seem to constantly need to be filled and found, double the shoes, double the whining on some days and double the chaos when eating meals at a restaurant. There is sometimes double the chance you're going to have to get up in the middle of the night (though that is getting much better!), double the runny noses, and double the doctor's appointments.

Lately, now that Ella is at a stage to want everything Ava has and Ava at a stage where she doesn't want Ella to have anything she is playing with, there often needs to be double toys; like now we have two strollers so that both girls can push them at the same time without causing another need to have a cat fight! 

All that said...

There are also double the smiles, double the laughter, double the creative minds doing things that fill your heart with adoration for your beautiful offspring and moments when my "double trouble" cooperates with one another to do the cutest darn things in the making animal noises at each other, playing ring around the rosie or hide and seek.

 I LOVE nothing more than when Ava does something to either help Ella, make her laugh, or help her figure out something she is trying to do. The cutest thing lately is that Ava has been "reading" books to her sister...I wish it were like that ALL the time...but, that really realistic?...I mean, I didn't love my sister or my brothers ALL the time when I was growing up...there were cat fights and even the occasional hair pulling, hand swatting match...

I am working on talking to Ava about loving her sister. On asking her what she thinks she should do in a given situation, and even more importantly asking her what type of action she thinks would make God does God love others and how does He want us to show that love to others, particularly our family members? 

She gets it.

When she wants too.

If Ella falls or gets hurt on her own accord Ava often grabs a binky and Ella's doggy and brings it over to her. She says, "Ella babe, it's o.k." and gives her a kiss on the head. She is trying to teach Ella words, she sometimes will patiently show her how to use a toy, she loves to help feed Ella at meal times, and as I said earlier, she has been "reading" to her, which is my favorite thing in the world! 

At the end of the day, I'm blessed to have siblings, and so are my girls. I once met an elderly man while I was out taking Ava for a walk. I was quite pregnant with Ella and the man said "hi" to Ava and pointed to my belly asking if another was on the way...

"Oh boy" I said. "Yes there is and I'm not sure what I'm in for."

"Oh, what a blessing" he said. "I never had siblings and it was very lonely."

I was so moved and sad for this man who, now at his older age particularly, no longer had parents and was probably disconnected from or had lost many much would he have loved a sibling...especially at that moment. 

I think about that man when I'm frustrated with the way the girls are treating each other and I realize and say to myself..."This is good. this is the way it should be. they do love each other deep down and by God's grace they will be more than just sisters someday, they will hopefully be wonderful friends." 

Tuesday, July 20

2 Mommas + 4 Children= Utter Chaos

Yes, yes, I did it again...I took the girls to Wegmans for lunch.  (For those of you who don't know what Wegmans is-- it is an incredible grocery store that carries everything you can imagine, has childcare for children 3-7 (though now that my daughter is 3 she refuses to go in, but that's another story!) and has a wonderful lunch/cafe area).

We actually did not purchase lunch from Wegmans today. I packed lunches and my friend Sarah and her two little girls met us at a park and then we ventured over to Wegmans to eat (Sarah needed some food for her girls).

Sometimes I wonder why I do some of the things I do...the answer-- pure distraction!

I need distractions in my day and so I opt for things that are physically chaotic (like taking the girls to a park and then lunch) rather than emotionally chaotic (the tedium of being home alone without any adult conversation all day and watching the girls undo every portion of the house I've straightened least when we leave, the house stays cleaner and I get adult interaction-- not always conversation--I'm not sure Sara and I said 12 consecutive words to each other-- but at least interaction).

After we managed to push the behemoth truck/grocery cart into the store (a cart we really didn't need because we were not shopping, but that our girls decided they MUST ride in) my Ava (Sarah's daughter is also Ava) decided she needed to pee (of course!). Sarah graciously took her while I pushed the cart into the cafe area. We found a table near the play area, some high-chairs and started setting up food and cups, etc. After Sarah grabbed food for her daughter, her youngest (around 8 months) needed to eat so Sarah ran out to her car to nurse her while I started feeding the other three children.

Ella launched food on the floor, Sarah spilled her soup after she came back while trying to simultaneously hold her baby on her lap and eat, our 3-year olds completely pulled the play area apart-- pulled all of the kids chairs out from under the kid tables, lined them up against the wall (so that they could look out the window), left puzzle pieces strewn across the floor, and pulled crayons out of boxes that they used momentarily to color, but that were left scattered around (and thrown on the floor by Ella) once they were onto something else.

Sarah and I decided that all of the other lunchers in the cafe either A) hated us or B) felt bad for us...I'm sure there were shared feelings on both fronts. After the girls ate, our 3-year olds jumped on each other on a bean bag chair and we lined everyone up along the window for an impromptu picture before we packed up and headed home.

Sounds like fun, doesn't it?!

In all truthfulness, I would rather be able to have these chaotic experiences WITH the girls than have them be cooped up in a daycare all day somewhere having chaotic experiences with non-family members. I know not everyone feels that way...but as crazy as things get I do feel that way.

I hope I don't get in trouble for saying that...but hey, it's my blog!!! ( a.k.a. my soapbox to stand on!) and I think kids deserve to experience their early years at home if at ALL possible...whether that means a smaller house, or less extravagances, there is an importance and a security that children inherit when they spend the majority of their pre-school years with their parents and at home.


Off to book club tonight to discuss "Water For Elephants"-- if you're looking for a good fiction read I would highly recommend it.  It's actually coming out as a movie this fall (with Reese Witherspoon-an odd choice in my opinion, and one of the teen babe boys from Twilight). Great book. Looking forward to some tapas and ACTUAL adult conversation with some great gals!

Here are some pictures that don't do our afternoon chaos justice, but at least give you a sneak peak into things!

(this is a kids table that formerly sat on the play rug with 4 chairs prior to our arrival--that puzzle was also nicely boxed and sitting on a shelf)

(we first caught the two big girls on chairs with their heads behind the blinds, then Ella joined (in pink), then we threw the baby in for fun!)

Thursday, July 15

Finding Joy in the Journey

I woke up this morning with the same sort of nagging ambivalence and slightly pessimistic attitude that I wake up with on many mornings. It goes something likes this, especially if the girls wake me up instead of my waking up on my own account, "Oi, here we go again."

I wish I didn't feel that way...or, at least, that that wasn't the first thought that popped into my head, but it usually is, so I'm throwing it out there.

Sometimes I wonder if someone asked me, "Lisa, are you happy?" how I would answer the question. What is happiness? How do we define it? And how can I say I'm "happy" at the end of a long day of scrubbing floors, picking up messes, wiping dirty bums, chasing children, and listening to them cry and whine no matter what logical solution I try to present in order to solve their problems.

Depending on the time of day, if you were to ask me that question, "happy" is not the first adjective that would come to mind. Lately the adjectives sound more like "tired,""frustrated", "impatient", and desiring more free time, more personal space, more opportunities to do tasks that are logical, non-messy and that have tangible outcomes.

Those things aside I'm not sure it's fair to try to describe parenting in terms of happiness or unhappiness. It's WAY more complicated than that.

That said,  this morning, when I turned on the Today Show and saw that they were doing a segment about an article recently written in New York Magazine called "I Love My Kids, But Hate My Life" my ears perked up and I turned it up to listen to what the author had to say.

"Hate" is a particularly strong word. I'm sure the author would admit that as well. I think the word "hate" was more for attention, but nevertheless, I understood completely what she was saying. I get her point...

Life with children is NOT easy and many of us very naively enter into the role with college degrees and and heady thinking that we know EXACTLY what we're getting ourselves into and that we are going to be blissfully happy doing it.

I'm not saying I'm not happy. I'm just saying that parenting is WAY different than I thought it would be and I'm still adjusting to the shock of it all!

The author discusses a great deal of research that concludes that parenting doesn't make people "happy", and that the opposite has actually been found to be true, parenting actually makes many people less happy. It makes people stressed, frustrated and mind numbingly exhausted at the end of the day.

Sobering thoughts, huh?

After reading the article I found myself thinking, boy, it's a good think I serve a God that offers some perspective on things. A God that says, "in all things give God glory," "in EVERYTHING give thanks." A God who is the author and perfecter of our lives and who instills in us a greater longing and sense of being than anything the "professional" life can offer.

Motherhood is more  of what we do not expect it to be than what we do.  It's not all smiling babies and bliss. It's sacrificial, it's challenging to our own personal desires, it's hard on our marriages.

And while all of these things can come as a surprise and can take some time to adjust to, I think, especially if we call ourselves Christians, we have a greater calling than to just be dissatisfied, frustrated and irritated by the demands of parenthood. I think we have a responsibility to find joy in the journey, to use the challenges to better ourselves.

For me this has meant learning to manage my emotions, it has meant admitting to being selfish at times, it has meant learning to be more sacrificial, more of a servant, more compassionate to the needs of others and not just myself. It has made me question my own values so that I can instill positive values and an understanding of God in my children.

This article was a wake-up call for me because if you asked some of the people closest to me on some of my hardest mommy days they might just tell you that  I certainly do love my children but seem to hate my life...I don't want that to be the case...God doesn't want that to be the case.

I can say with all sincerity that I love my children and that my life is a bit crazy right I love it all the time...hmmm...that might be a stretch...BUT regardless I know that it is where God has me right now and that it is my responsibility to do this job to the best of my abilities. I'm working on being more peaceful about it all, on not sweating the little things so much and on being more grateful for the incredible blessings in my life.

Wednesday, July 14

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: Busy Busy Summertime

My only excuse for blogging less frequently is that it is summertime, which translates to longer days and more time outside. For us it has also translated into busy, busy, busyness as well! Here is a rundown of our weekends since Memorial Day...

Memorial Day Weekend: ran the 1/2 marathon, also Scott's dad's birthday weekend which meant LOTS of family in town and family events

June 4th: A wedding in MA and Ava's b-day- we traveled to Massachusetts to visit friends, attend a wedding and celebrated Ava's b-day while we were there!

June 12th: For the benefit of Ava and our family we host a rather larger b-day party for Ava at our house...Children included I think there were close to 30 people at our, but crazy!

June 18th: Friday we run a 5k race, Saturday we go out to dinner with Scott's family, Sunday is father's day and my b-day...we attempt to celebrate it all! Friends of ours also pass through from MA to Ohio and spend the night on Sunday.

We spend most of the week afterwards trying to have birthday celebrations that didn't happen over the weekend...Scott makes me dinner, I make him dinner for his birthday the following Thursday (the 24th!)

June 25th: I spend one night away for a MOPS leadership retreat. On Sunday I begin to get Ava ready for a trip to NJ with Scott. Scott and Ava spend the 28th-2nd in NJ and I'm home with Ella. Easier...but lonely!

July 3-4th: Sat night my family comes over for dinner and we go see fireworks, Sunday we run a 10K in the a.m., take naps, pack the girls up and take them up to Canada to meet up with Scott's family for dinner.

July 9-11: I get sick on Friday, and spend the weekend cleaning the house...Other friends come through from MI back to MA on Monday the 12th...

July I am wondering where the last six weeks have gone and why I feel like I haven't had time to blog or fold laundry!!! In between all of the listed items I have also been taking the girls to swim lessons, trying to keep up consistent work-outs and just the day to day life stuff...

I have enjoyed all of the festivities but am ready to relax for a couple of weeks! Perhaps I'll say more about that later...since it's an "almost" wordless Wed. here are a few pics to enjoy for now....

(Our first attempt at a pinata at Ava's party...we'll do one with pull-strings next time!)

(food for Ava's party!)

(Ella, Ella, Ella...I say that a LOT these days!)

(Ava's b-day cake...Nancy (my mother in law) was here to decorate it! I had good intentions, but it would NOT have turned out so nicely had I decorated it! All I can take credit for here is the baking! Thanks Nance!)

(the girls at one of many dinners...)

(blueberry picking)

(I have LOTS of frozen blueberries! Yummy!)

Pics of our garden...growing scallions, beets, plum tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, regular tomatoes, green beans, zuchinni and basil...for all of those who think you must have a green thumb to garden...I am a testament that you do not! It's a lot of fun and I think everyone should at the very least have fresh tomatoes durning the summer! 

tomatoes and scallions


Thursday, July 8

The Wheels on the Bus

A while back Ava was going through a stage in which her ABSOLUTE FAVORITE song was "The Wheels on the Bus." Well, about that same time my hubby coined a phrase that was used particularly in the evening, right around 8 o'clock or so, but sometimes earlier in the day. When all heck started to break loose, and we had a least one child entering meltdown mode, and sometimes two children at the same time, Scott would say,

"Alright! The wheels are falling OFF THE BUS!"

If we were out, this meant it was certainly time to get home. If we are home it means it is time to hightail things into bedtime mode ASAP!!!! was a day where Mommy's wheels were falling off the bus...I needed a time-out, a bed time, a go to bed early ticket! Unfortunately, mommies don't get those so I just had to keep plugging along.

Ever have those days? Everything feels like it's out of control. Children are fighting. The house is a mess. You and your husband are throwing shots at each other (I'm sure that never happens in YOUR actually never happens here either...I'm just saying IF it did...).

I mean, if you read my blog regularly you might be thinking, "Lady, your wheels are ALWAYS falling off your bus!"

Well, while that might seem true, it would not be completely accurate...I just happen to need to blog on the days when they do feel like they're falling off, more than the days that  don't  feel that way...And besides, I figure you all like to hear the dirt because it hopefully makes your lives feel a little saner, a little more really I'm dishing my dirt for the betterment of all of you other mommas out there!!

So what did this crazy day look like?

Well, it started with a scheduled playdate at 9 a.m. to which I promised to bring fruit, cream cheese and bagels. No big deal, right?

I KNEW in order to get myself and the girls dressed on time (especially since I needed to shower), as well as rinse and cut the fruit, get the diaper bag ready and stop at Tim Hortons to pick up bagels that I should have been up by 7ish...

I stayed up too late reading my book club book last night (Water For Elephants)...I didn't get up until 7:30 and realized I needed to fill out and mail all of Ava's preschool paperwork by today in order for them to receive it on time.

Because Scott works from  home we tend to have this boundary issue where I feel like I need help...and well, seeing as he's working in the basement...I holler down...too easy, huh? I really need to pretend he's not here, but I challenge you momma's to do the same thing when your kiddos need to be dressed, you need to shower and you are refereeing the fourth fight of the morning over some silly toy.

Everything was going fine until I stepped out of the shower and witnessed Ava push Ella to the floor over a puzzle that used to be Ava's, but which she has not had an interest in for MONTHS until Ella decided she was interested in it this morning. I yelled at Ava, Ella started crying, Ava started crying, I yelled down the stairs that I couldn't believe Scott could just ignore all of the chaos going on upstairs and furthermore "IT MUST BE NICE TO TAKE A SHOWER EVERYDAY BY YOURSELF WITHOUT SCREAMING KIDS...CAN'T YOU HELP ME ONE DAY??!!"

Scott yelled back that I needed to stop yelling at which point I started crying.

As Ella says these days, "Oh Boy."

As Scott says, "the wheels are falling off the bus!"

The rest of the day was not nearly as chaotic as the beginning. Scott and I had a chance to go out to lunch, where I cried, AGAIN...but we worked through things. I got a short nap in. I fed everyone hot dogs for dinner.

I chatted with my sister on the phone about how I need to let go of any expectations of Scott helping out in the morning...mostly because it's not fair to him-- he needs to work-- and I'm putting too much pressure on him. She's right.

It's just so darn hard're tired in the morning, the kids start fighting, they're hungry, you're hungry, the showering, the needing to get not just one person, but three ready to get out of the house...

What is the lesson here?

Get to bed on time.
Prepare as much as I can the night before.
Reduce expectations of Scott in the morning.
Get up on time.

Of all the things I don't know today the one thing I do know is that being a mommy is hard work. It's harder than I could have ever imagined. It's hard physically and emotionally. It changes your marriage. It changes your personal life. It prompts you to reflect on how you react to others and how you handle yourself.

As I've said before, thank God, literally, that HIS mercies are new every morning...that I get a new bus with new wheels to start the day over with tomorrow!

Thursday, July 1

Two is Better than One, BUT...

Alright, so I'm not sure exactly how to say this without coming across like I don't love one of my children...BUT, it's just been Ella and I around here all week has been awfully quiet! and easy to clean up after! and ALL of the laundry in the house is washed (not quite folded and put away yet, but we're working on that)! there is less to clean up after meals...and at's just plain less messy in general!

I have watched movies in the evening. I've gone through a mountain of paperwork that was growing in the kitchen. I washed my kitchen floor last night (though that's gross already again today because Ella is the one who finds it hilarious to deposit parts of her meals there). I've read magazines. I even went for a jog with the jogging stroller today.

If you're all wondering what in the world I did with my older daughter and my husband---which I'm sure you are-- they drove to New Jersey together on Monday: Scott had a business trip in a town in New Jersey that happens to be about 20 minutes from his mom's house. When this first came up and I had a panicked look on my face about taking care of both girls by myself for three days I came up with a solution-- "Why don't you take Ava with you so she can spend some time with your mom while you're at your conference?"

It turned out to be a great idea! Ava is having the time of her life (though I'm not really sure how much I like how little she misses me at the moment!) with "Nanner" (that's what we call Scott's mom-- her name is Nancy...and instead of an old lady name like Nana, which would not fit her at all, we made her Nanner!), Scott is getting some work done and I have had some great one on one time with Ella as well as some pretty quiet and peaceful downtime to myself.

(Nanner- Thanks for taking such care of my little pumpkin this week!!! Every time I talk to her she says, "Mommy, do you miss me?" "Well, I'm going to stay THREE MORE DAYS!" LOL)

So back to my original thought...I'm really not insinuating at all that I don't want my daughter back, because I miss her like crazy...especially after I saw this hilarious picture that Nanner snapped of her yesterday:

BUT! I'm taking advantage of the break. Let me tell you...One is so much easier to take care of! It's kind of funny because when I first had Ava it didn't feel that way at all--you're so overwhelmed with being a new parent and the increased demands on your time that you feel like you don't have time to do anything...but oh, oh, oh, after you have two...and get to go back to one for a couple of days-- let me tell you, you take advantage of it and appreciate it!

Ella is still taking two naps, she goes to bed at 8:15 and it is way easier in general to take one on errands that two. I had so much energy left over when I put her to bed at 8:15 last night that that is when I was inspired to wash my kitchen floor. That NEVER happens.

So anyway, is there a lesson in all of this?

I suppose if I'm introspective about it all I'm realizing that the expectations I place on myself for house cleanliness and tasks to accomplish are quite high when you have two small children to take care of. They are quite manageable with just one 16 mo. old around, but not with two.

The fact of the matter is two is messier, it's crazier, it's more hectic. You have two little people demanding their needs to be met all day long...and for those of you who have three at home...I admire you greatly, because you have 3 little people launching toys around and demanding to be fed and needing clothes and sunscreen and sippy cups and sandwiches and snacks.

So the only real lesson here is that I haven't been totally crazy in feeling like I"m going crazy lately. Life with multiple toddlers/preschoolers at home IS crazy.

But fun.

As other moms have said-- with more than one child there are also more smiles, more laughs, more hugs, more songs, more joy to go around.

So, I'm enjoying the peace and looking forward to returning to chaos next week when Scott returns to work. Returning to it with renewed energy and perspective and that's always a good thing.