Sunday, June 30, 2013

9 Months: A Perfect Storm

Or rather, perfectly stormy. My twin boys are officially 9 months old. I was pregnant with them for almost the whole 9 month gestation. To be exact, 36 1/2 weeks, or better yet, just over 8 1/2 cycles of the big and beautiful moon. An infinite number of things can happen in such an insignificant length of time on this earth. Lives can be completely rearranged, tossed and scattered just like a million sea shells upon the sand. New life can grow and swell in unison inside another living being. Relationships can wane or flourish; they may even experience a combination of the two. Sleep and to do lists can be swept to the side in a tide of new responsibilities and flowing tears of joy and sadness, creeping ever deeper, can consume an unsuspecting soul into their depths. Or, one can learn to swim, even if it is only treading water at times. All that matters is that you can keep your head above water, at least until your tippy toes can touch the bottom or your mind, body and soul become stronger.

The last 9 months have not been a perfect walk along the beach. My husband and I feel like we have accomplished something great together, regardless. We made it through a very difficult time and came out stronger, closer and even more sure of the strength we have as a unit. We made it through. We held each others hands and didn't allow the storm to take us down.

How can I measure the last 9 months? Approximately 255 days, 6,120 hours, 367,200 minutes,  22,032,000 seconds, give or take. I have probably prepared and fed the babies 3,500 bottles, well over 200 cans of formula. I have changed around 5,600 diapers and pull ups and used up 16,500 wipes. I have fixed nearly 300 bumps, bruises and scrapes. I have possibly slept, on average, 5 hours a night, at best. This equals around 1,275 hours, if I am bring generous. I have attended maybe 30 doctor, dentist, physical therapy and optical appointments. I have cleaned the whole house...once? But, have done 250 loads of laundry, 300 piles of dishes and an unlimited number of other household tasks. I have paid over 100 monthly bills. I slept on the couch for at least 3 or 4 months because our house is too small, the babies do not have their own room and my dear hubby has to get up and go to work early in the mornings. I have cried a dozen times...or so. I have raised my voice more times than I care to admit.

On a lighter note...I have given a bazillion kisses and a lifetimes worth of hugs. I have laughed 4,000 times, at least, and smiled thousands more. I have played with my children everyday. I have shown them some new things. I have read hundreds of books and danced around the living room singing along with the songs loudly and proudly, often. I've told many silly jokes and stupid puns. I have tickled and pillow fought with gusto, on occasion. I've saved them from at least 50 spiders. I've given countless bubble baths for hours and hours until their 10 fingers and 10 toes each shriveled up into raisins. I've blown a trillion bubbles and side walk chalked enough to draw a line around the world. I have loved, with my entire being, all day, every day.

In 9 months I have discovered even more about myself. I am very aware that I am as complex as there are drops of water in the ocean. Each day is an adventure, some days better than others. My already wonderful marriage has flourished. Together we are as strong as the tides. The waves crashing against the rocks, slowly carving away, constantly changing the surface, are no match for our love and our strength together. After all of this, I know that we can accomplish anything. 18 months ago we started slowly treading water. We have since, learned to swim.

'Seasons of Love'
By: Jonathan Larson

Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes,
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Moments so dear.
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?

In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights
In cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife.

In five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
How do you measure
A year in the life?

How about love?
How about love?
How about love? Measure in love

Seasons of love. Seasons of love

Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes!
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Journeys to plan.

Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
How do you measure the life
Of a woman or a man?

In truths that she learned,
Or in times that he cried.
In bridges he burned,
Or the way that she died.

It's time now to sing out,
Tho' the story never ends
Let's celebrate
Remember a year in the life of friends
Remember the love!
Remember the love!
Seasons of love!

Oh you got to got to 
Remember the love! 
You know that love is a gift from up above 
Share love, give love spread love 
Measure measure your life in love.

Friday, June 28, 2013

25 Rules: Dedicated in Loving Memory of Chris

This will be a long post. Not only is it a long post, but I also waited too long to write this one. An old high school friend shared '25 Rules for Mothers of Daughters' on his Facebook wall back on April 25th, 2013. Usually, when someone shares such a long read I just skip it altogether. This one, I actually decided to read because of who shared it and it moved me. I immediately copied and saved it because I knew that I wanted to use it in my blog. I planned on giving this old friend props in my post and a big thank you for sharing these wonderful words. Unfortunately, this friend passed away unexpectedly on May 19th, 2013. Shame on me for waiting so long. You just never know. Chris Bragelman, this one is for you. R.I.P.

Reading these rules, I was able to see where my strong points and weaknesses as a mother are, quite clearly. Most of these rules can apply to raising sons, too. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did and I will make my additions in italics so you may know my own words from the unknown author. So, here goes...


1. Paint her nails. Then let her scratch it off and dirty them up. Teach her to care about her appearance, and then quickly remind her that living and having fun is most important.

I find myself shying away from messier crafts because I don't have the energy or the time to clean up all the extra messes in addition to the daily ones I clean already. Too often I may tell her not to get dirty because we have something or other else to do. I need to work on this. I need to create more time for plain old messy fun.

2. Let her put on your makeup, even if it means bright-red-smudged lips and streaked-blue eyes. Let her experiment in her attempts to be like you…then let her be herself.

On my To-Do list.

3. Let her be wild. She may want to stay home and read books on the couch, or she may want to hop on the back of a motorcycle-gasp. She may be a homebody or a traveler. She may fall in love with the wrong boy, or meet Mr. right at age 5. Try to remember that you were her age once. Everyone makes mistakes, let her make her own.

I feel like this is one of my stronger points as a mother. My two oldest children are teenagers now and I am doing my best to keep things in perspective and not stunt their social growth through my own insecurities. Time will tell if I get this one right. 

4. Be present. Be there for her at her Kindergarten performances, her dance recitals, her soccer games…her everyday-little-moments. When she looks through the crowds of people, she will be looking for your smile and pride. Show it to her as often as possible.

This one hits home pretty hard right now. I have missed so much of my two older sons' baseball games and such because of the three younger children. I do what I can but still feel like it is never enough. It hurts in my heart sometimes. I try to communicate openly and hope that they do not grow to resent their three younger siblings someday. I hope this gets better as the babies get older and are more conveniently mobile.

5. Encourage her to try on your shoes and play dress-up. If she would rather wear her brother’s superman cape with high heels, allow it. If she wants to wear a tutu or dinosaur costume to the grocery store, why stop her? She needs to decide who she is and be confident in her decision.

I got this! I have no problem with my children and what they choose to wear or be. I only get involved if it would be unsafe weather wise. Other than that, they can wear what they wish. Boys can wear pink. Girls can love dinosaur jammies.

6. Teach her to be independent. Show her by example that woman can be strong. Find and follow your own passions. Search for outlets of expression and enjoyment for yourself- not just your husband or children. Define yourself by your own attributes, not by what others expect you to be. Know who you are as a person, and help your daughter find out who she is.

The last eleven years of my life, I have been working on this exact thing. I hope my children see it and absorb it and know that I know myself, respect myself and try to better myself. I am learning to follow my dreams. I hope they do theirs.

7. Pick flowers with her. Put them in her hair. There is nothing more beautiful than a girl and a flower.

Did. Do. Done. Will continue to do so. I am a hippie, though.

8. Let her get messy. Get messy with her, no matter how much it makes you cringe inside. Splash in the puddles, throw snowballs, make mud pies, finger paint the walls: just let it happen. The most wonderful of memories are often the messy ones.

Cringe...within reason...sigh...

9. Give her good role models- you being one of them. Introduce her to successful woman- friends, co-workers, doctors, astronauts, or authors. Read to her about influential women- Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks, Marie Curie. Read her the words of inspirational women- Jane Austen, Sylvia Plath, Emily Dickinson. She should know that anything is possible.

I will try.

10. Show her affection. Daughters will mimic the compassion of their mother. “I love yous” and Eskimo kisses go a long way.

There is no lack of affection in our household. Hugs, kisses, I love yous. Sometimes I even wonder if I say it too much...or is there such a thing. I can't get enough of my children. Even though it is nice and peaceful to run to the grocery store alone...I still miss my kids, deep down, the whole time.

11. Hold her hand. Whether she is 3 years-old in the parking lot or sixteen years old in the mall, hold on to her always- this will teach her to be confident in herself and proud of her family.

I do. I will. She'll know.

12. Believe in her. It is the moments that she does not believe in herself that she will need you to believe enough for both of you. Whether it is a spelling test in the first grade, a big game or recital, a first date, or the first day of college…remind her of the independent and capable woman you have taught her to be.

Of course.

13. Tell her how beautiful she is. Whether it is her first day of Kindergarten, immediately after a soccer game where she is grass-stained and sweaty, or her wedding day. She needs your reminders. She needs your pride. She needs your reassurance. She is only human.

She is. As are all my children. Don't think anything could change this.

14. Love her father. Teach her to love a good man, like him. One who lets her be herself…she is after all wonderful.

I lucked out on this one. We have been together for eleven years and today happens to be our 5th wedding anniversary. I love you always and forever, Allen. Thanks for being so easy to love.

15. Make forts with boxes and blankets. Help her to find magic in the ordinary, to imagine, to create and to believe in fairy tales. Someday she will make her 5 by 5 dorm-room her home with magic touches and inspiration. And she will fall in love with a boy and believe him to be Prince Charming.

I do these things but could always improve and do them more often. There is nothing like a wonderful imagination!

16. Read to her. Read her Dr. Seuss and Eric Carle. But also remember the power of Sylvia Plath and Robert Frost. Show her the beauty of words on a page and let her see you enjoy them. Words can be simply written and simply spoken, yet can harvest so much meaning. Help her to find their meaning.

I read to my children all of the time but I could definitely work on what I read to them. It is just so easy to grab a simple book or two or three. Maybe I should reach for something more substantial.

17. Teach her how to love- with passion and kisses. Love her passionately. Love her father passionately and her siblings passionately. Express your love. Show her how to love with no restraint. Let her get her heart broken and try again. Let her cry, and gush, giggle and scream. She will love like you love or hate like you hate. So, choose love for both you and her.

Truer words there could not be.

18. Encourage her to dance and sing. Dance and sing with her- even if it sounds or looks horrible. Let her wiggle to nursery rhymes. Let her dance on her daddy's feet and spin in your arms. Then later, let her blast noise and headbang in her bedroom with her door shut if she wants. Or karaoke to Tom Petty in the living room if she would rather. Introduce her to the classics- like The Beatles- and listen to her latest favorite- like Taylor Swift. Share the magic of music together, it will bring you closer- or at least create a soundtrack to your life together.

Music comes easily in our home.

19. Share secrets together. Communicate. Talk. Talk about anything. Let her tell you about boys, friends, school. Listen. Ask questions. Share dreams, hopes, concerns. She is not only your daughter, you are not only her mother. Be her friend too.

I am as open with my children as humanly possible and age appropriately I can be. I remind them that I am here for them, often. I ask questions. I dig deeper than their one word answers. I care and they know it.

20. Teach her manners. Because sometimes you have to be her mother, not just her friend. The world is a happier place when made up of polite words and smiles.

I have been blessed with very well behaved and polite children. I know that people give me most of the credit, but my spouse, family, friends and even the children themselves deserve some, too. It is a group effort.

21. Teach her when to stand-up and when to walk away. Whether she has classmates who tease her because of her glasses, or a boyfriend who tells her she is too fat - let her know she does not have to listen. Make sure she knows how to demand respect - she is worthy of it. It does not mean she has to fight back with fists or words, because sometimes you say more with silence. Also make sure she knows which battles are worth fighting. Remind her that some people can be mean and nasty because of jealousy, or other personal reasons. Help her to understand when to shut her mouth and walk-away. Teach her to be the better person.

This is a constant effort as a parent. I have children ranging in age from fourteen years to nine months. These struggles come at every twist and turn and step of the way. Diligence. Persistence. Respect.

22. Let her choose who she loves. Even when you see through the charming boy she thinks he is, let her love him without your disapproving words; she will anyway. When he breaks her heart, be there for her with words of support rather than I told-you-so. Let her mess up again and again until she finds the one. And when she finds the one, tell her.

My mom did this for me, and I will pay it forward to my children. I would not have listened to disapproving words. I had to live and learn. I had to experience life. I had to grow and build character. Everyone should.

23. Mother her. Being a mother - to her - is undoubtedly one of your greatest accomplishments. Share with her the joys of motherhood, so one day she will want to be a mother too. Remind her over and over again with words and kisses that no one will ever love her like you love her. No one can replace or replicate a mother's love for their children.

If you get a chance to someday, ask my daughter how much I love her. She knows.

24. Comfort her. Because sometimes you just need your mommy. When she is sick, rub her back, make her soup and cover her in blankets - no matter how old she is. Someday, if she is giving birth to her own child, push her hair out of her face, encourage her, and tell her how beautiful she is. These are the moments she will remember you for. And someday when her husband rubs her back in attempt to comfort her...she may just whisper, "I need my mommy."

I do and I hope she always allows me to. That goes for all five of my precious children.

25. Be home. When she is sick with a cold or broken heart, she will come to you; welcome her. When she is engaged or pregnant, she will run to you to share her news; embrace her. When she is lost or confused, she will search for you; find her. When she needs advice on boys, schools, friends or an outfit; tell her. She is your daughter and will always need a safe harbor - where she can turn a key to see comforting eyes and a familiar smile; be home.

I am home.

Sunday, June 23, 2013


...kicked my arse. All I wanted to do was write. My goal for the day was to keep the kids happy, get a few chores done around the house so I didn't feel like a lazy bump for not accomplishing my household duties while I typed nonsense into the laptop, and then spend a relaxing evening in the living room with a big happy family while I did what I was so looking forward to doing. This is not how my day unfolded. By the end of the day I was laying on the couch, feeling nauseous and mentally exhausted, crabby as all get out and being weighed down into the cushions by a general feeling of malaise. I had been beat down.

By what? Nothing in particular; no specific pinpointable thing. It was just a day. I'm sure you can relate. The children were cranky and restless. Most likely feeling cooped up from all the rain and severe weather we have had over the last few days. The older children were nit picking and bickering off and on throughout the afternoon. My referee skills constantly at the ready. My house felt as though it was swallowing me alive. Some days the laundry and dishes and pet hair and everything else feels as though it is closing in all around me, similar to the scene in Star Wars where they are all trapped in the disgusting trash compactor room. Blah!

I tried getting the five kids out of the house to see if this helped their moods. It helped briefly. We took a very long walk through the neighborhoods of our town. I even stopped at the local CVS to pick up treats for us to eat and drink while we walked. It felt all-for-not, in the end. Ah well.

I did some dishes and then, with seven people in the house, the pile just magically reappeared, as usual. I washed and folded laundry for the better part of the day. By the time early evening rolled around and I was feeling beaten down, I had to give up. One load still in the washer and one in the dryer, a giant folded mountain covering the entire dining room table; it would just have to wait. 

Cooking dinner? Forget it. I fed the little ones something easy and the rest had to fend for themselves. Mini pizzas, Ramen noodles, leftover tacos, salads, sandwiches, a bowl of cereal; I didn't care and was in no mood. I ate a bowl of cereal around ten at night even though I wasn't feeling hungry.

My vacuum decided to die. Well, not really die, but needs some maintenance. I guess I need to take it apart, clean the roller, wash the filter, let them dry out and so on. Good grief. It's on the to do list. Maybe tonight even though I don't feel up to it yet. My poor babies are crawling all over now and I'm feeling kinda bad about that. This sucks...or not...get it? Sorry. Lame joke.

I had my oldest son help me put the air conditioners in the kids bedroom windows yesterday, finally. You know, it had only gotten to 84 degrees in their rooms the last few nights. When my daughter woke up immediately asking for a glass of water, I was feeling like a pretty bad mother at that point. But, all is better temperature wise today.

By 6:45 PM I had had enough for one day. I was on edge. I was starting to get very short with everyone. I felt like my face had gone into droopy walking zombie mode. This couldn't have been helping anyone around me. I tapped out, so to speak. All three little ones were put to bed a little earlier than usual. I felt a bit bad about doing this, but I have learned from experience (and some videos they make you watch in the hospital before you can take your baby home) that sometimes it is better to lay them down and walk away before you can do something stupid or potentially harmful. Not that I would ever get to the point of shaking a baby. I am very aware of my actions. But, it is still no good for them if I am in a bad mental place. They all fell asleep shortly after and were "happier". At that point, I laid on the couch, in and out of restless sleep and tossing, while the two big kids took turns playing Skyrim. After a while, I had had enough of that too and had them put in a movie.

To make a long story no shorter, yesterday sucked. I don't want to be a complainer, just venting, I suppose. If you would like me to shut the hell up, just close this tab on your computer screen. No offense will be taken. Today I woke up in a slightly better mood. Feeling a little less ill, anyway. I finished the dishes and the laundry. I baked banana chocolate chip bread for a family potluck we are going to this evening. I am writing, although not one of the many other "fun" topics I really wanted to write about because I am in no frame of mind for my words to come out right. I took a shower, which was probably the highlight of my weekend, so far. "It is what it is." I hate this saying but feel it is truthful at the moment.

Another mom I know said to me a while back, after having a rough day or two with her own children, that she felt bad about feeling so overwhelmed and had thought to herself that "Ginny can do this, no problem, and she has five kids. She is a super mom. I only have two kids and am struggling." I had to take a moment and set her straight. Although I was flattered and admittedly I can put on a good show of having all my shit together but, I have just as many bad days as the rest of the moms out there. I hide in my room and cry alone. I yell at my kids when I maybe shouldn't. I give them junk food for dinner when I have no will or energy to do anything more. I skip going places we were supposed to go because it is just too much work physically and mentally sometimes. I say to myself, in my head, "I'm gonna jump!" I am not a "Super Mom". I never said I was. I do try to be. I give it my best shot within my measly human means, almost every day. I "aspire" to be one someday. But, other days...other days I throw in the towel. I conceded to their madness. I beat myself up on the inside. I am human.

And that is all it is. Yesterday. It is gone, it is over, it is not coming back. That is the beautiful thing about yesterdays. They go away. Today I try harder. Then, I cross my fingers and tell myself, "Tomorrow will be better."

Sunday, June 2, 2013

A Sucker

I love the word "no." I am not afraid of the word "no." I almost always say "no" to these giant rainbow suckers. Today I said "yes" to DJ for the first time. She was one happy girl!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Tourist in My Own Town

Having a house guest for a month is not the easiest thing in the world. It is also a lot of fun, though. My kid sister is staying with us for a whole month. She is from Louisiana, just graduated from high school and took us up on our offer to have her stay awhile. I always wanted a sister around but we were raised 1,300 miles apart for her whole life. I am enjoying getting to know her in person and not just over the phone and instant messages. Having her stay, we are getting to do all sorts of fun things around town. It is actually giving me great practice at hauling all three little ones around. This is not an easy task, but my Sis is so worth the efforts!

At first, we made a family trip to Como Zoo and walked through the Sculpture Gardens. We have had two big family dinner gatherings, one of which included a fifteen person game of Pictionary, which was ridiculously cute because we had the five children ages ten to two be on their own team together. The littlest ones would have their parent tell them a simple word to draw, like "circle" or "line". My daughter thought I said "lime" and gave it her best three year old shot. Precious. One of my older nephews decided to try drawing from a card and drew a piece of cheese. After further inspection of the card, it actually said "chess" but we let it slide and giggled about it for a bit. Too cute!

The last week has been very busy. I have felt like a tourist in my own town, in a good way. It is nice to see all the attractions surrounding you when you can watch someone else enjoying it all for the first time. Makes things almost like new again. Wednesday we took the three little ones to Theodore Wirth Park. I have been researching free or inexpensive things to do around the Twin Cities and the Eloise Butler Wildlife Garden and Bird Sanctuary seemed like a nice thing to do. We drove all the way there and found parking meters that we were not prepared for; that was not mentioned online at the site I visited. Also, the trails were not stroller accessible, having many wooden steps and dirt paths instead of the paved trails that I was expecting, only having visited paved trails in that area in the past. So, we decided to turn around and drive over to the huge beautiful playground we had passed when first entering the park. DJ loved the play area and then we took a long walk around the lake. Pretty Perfect.

On Thursday we had the twins spend the day over at Oma's house so my sister and I could take DJ to The Children's Museum in St. Paul. It was so much easier to chase her around and give her lots of attention without the babies around. She did have a mini meltdown in the car on the way there, but once we arrived she realized exactly what was going on and cheered right up. I think she felt special to have the big girls all to herself. It was also not busy in the museum and DJ didn't have to wait in line for almost anything. I was fully prepared to be surrounded by kids on field trips since it is the last week or two of school for most places. But, it was not packed and we enjoyed every minute. We crawled though the ant tunnels, made a thunder storm, created big bubbles, saw Dora, played town and grocery store, painted our faces and so much more. I also packed us a bag lunch in order to save a little money. PB&J with veggie chips and an apple. Mmm.

Super Market play

Friday we had a long daytime walking tour through downtown Anoka. We stopped by Pizza Man and got their carry out special, a one topping medium pizza for six bucks! We took it up to Akin Park and let DJ play on the playground. We also had a surprise lunch visit from her Daddy, my wonderful hubby, whom we are lucky to have working so close to home. Then we walked over to Two Scoops, an awesome little family owned ice cream shop, and had dessert. Later on, in the evening, we decided to walk up to Billy's Bar and Grill for dinner and sat out on their patio to take advantage of the beautiful weather. This is our favorite place to go eat in the summer and it is only three blocks from home. Ahh, the little things.

Hannah and I wrapped up the night with girlie movies and doing each others hair and make up after the kiddos went to bed. I like having my little sister around! Coming up this week we have the Minnesota Zoo tomorrow and then a trip to the Mall of America on Wednesday with my neighbor and her teen aged daughter. Another busy week is ahead of me but we only have a few things left to squeeze in before I have to send her all the way back to Louisiana. I feel so lucky to be able to do all of this with her. I am grateful to my sons for sharing their bedroom with her and my husband for agreeing to open up our home for a whole month. I am not taking this time for granted.