Sunday, April 26, 2009

Blogging by the campfire

We decided to take an impromptu camping trip, so I did some blogging in front of the campfire. Yep. Out in the middle of the wilderness, but still connected to wireless Internet. Gotta love technology. You can never be too far out of touch, unless you really, really try.

My favorite Milly quotes from this camping trip...

After arriving at the campground and getting all set up: "When are we going camping?"

"Mommy, pick me down!"

"Peetend I'm da Mommy, and you da baby. Go to sleep baby."

and the best one...

"When we gonna marsh da mellows?"

Seesa spent most of her time chasing butterflies, catching lizards, riding her bike and pretending to be Bolt. Or making Milly pretend to be Bolt. Or pretending Soggy Doggy is Bolt...she's really into the movie Bolt needless to say.

So, in the words of Rhino (from the movie Bolt, that I have completely memorized since we've watched it about a million times), the camping trip was "fully awesome"!

Except that my laptop now smells like campfire smoke.

Disney is not paying me to endorse the movie Bolt - they're probably still bitter about my post about their supposed "fast play" option on their DVDs.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Thankful Thursday, on a Friday

Anyone noticing a trend here? What can I's been a tough couple of weeks. Which made me even more thankful for the surprise I received in the mail today. It was my "Pay it Forward" package of goodies from But Why Mommy. This was just the bit of sunshine that I needed!

Check out these beautiful earrings, handmade by Renee herself. I put them on immediately, and wore them all evening. They are light and feminine - and I love them!

She also sent a lovely little journal and some yummy dark chocolate - my favorite sweet, how did she know? I loved the saying on the front of the journal, "Grow the flowers that you love, sing the songs you've forgotten, climb your tree". And inside the journal's cover, "She is a gatherer: moonlight, found wishes, moments of gratitude".

What a very special surprise. Thank you Renee!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Thankful Thursday, on a Sunday

For a gorgeous weekend, just when I needed it the most...

After a fun Saturday visiting an amusement park and going to an afternoon tea, today we spent a leisurely day in our own backyard - one of my very favorite places in our home. After breakfast this morning, I immediately set up the blow-up pool, and we broke out the swim suits by 9:00am. We only left the yard to go into the house for snacks, lemonade, the occasional potty break and a nap for Milly. My Mom came up with two bags full of clothes from my sister, just when Seesa was outgrowing everything she owns. My friend Katie visited in the morning with her girls. I cleaned all the bunny cages - call me crazy, but it relaxes me. We ordered pizza for dinner and ate outside, since it was still so beautiful.

And for friends, in the blogosphere and in "real life", who catch me when I fall and hold me up - just when I need it the most.

I'm so very thankful.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The price of indepenence

I'm a fiercely independent person. Partly, I think I was born into it. I'm an Aries. But I also think I grew into it. My Dad died when I was eleven years old. Cancer sucks. My Mom was working as a nurse, so she was able to work to support our family. My sister and I grew up in a nice home, in a nice neighborhood. Not going to college was never an option for me. I remember my Mom telling me many times how fortunate we all were that she had a career. I witnessed firsthand how important my Mom's independence was to our family.

I've always taken pride in the fact that I can take care of myself. I love helping people, and I never hesitate to offer help when I see people in need. However, I have a really hard time asking for, or accepting help from others.

I've realized that independence has a price.

I get really frustrated at times at home when I make dinner, give the kids a bath, get them in their jammies, read them stories, put them in bed, clean the dishes, make the lunches, prepare meals for the next day, fold the laundry, log on to the computer to work...all without my husband ever asking if I need help. To his credit, I'd probably say no anyway. What I really want is for him to just help, without asking if I need it. Because for some reason, to me, admitting that I need help is like admitting that I can't do it all myself.

I was thinking back recently to the times when I was in the hospital after my babies were born. I had to have a c-section with both of their births. My husband didn't spend the night at the hospital with me. I knew he'd be more comfortable at home, and besides, I could do this. I even kept my babies with me in my hospital room, instead of in the nursery, because I could do this. And I did. When they'd wake every hour or two at night, I'd struggle to pull myself up, painfully reach over into their little bassinet and figure out the least painful position to try to nurse them. I didn't even like asking the nurses for help, but one of them gave it anyway. She would take Seesa to the nursery for a couple hours in the middle of the night, insisting that she needed her time at the "beauty parlor". She'd wash her, change her, feed her...while I slept. Then she'd bring her back smelling so good and I be a little rested. That first night at home with Seesa, I recall waking up over and over throughout the night, trying to breastfeed her. She wasn't getting even close to enough milk to satisfy her and she'd wake up screaming within less than an hour. By the wee hours of the morning, she wouldn't even latch on anymore and just cried in my arms while I held her, helpless and exhausted. I finally broke down crying myself, and called for my husband to help me. He took her, fed her a bottle and I collapsed in bed. Defeated.

It's probably having kids that has really shown me the price I pay for my independence. I do need help. I need people for so many reasons. I look back on those very early days of Motherhood. When I was desperately hanging onto my independence. I wish that I had asked for help. I wish that I had asked my husband to stay in the hospital with me. If only so that I could share the experience and have the memories of it reside somewhere other than just in my own mind.

I actually wrote this post months ago, but remembered it tonight, and felt inspired to post it. Sometimes, life just gets overwhelming. I'm usually the one who always finds the silver lining, no matter what is going on. The one who refuses to let things get me down, never gives up faith and tries to hold everyone else up. But sometimes... I want someone to hold me up. Just for a while.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

a moment for Maddie

Please take a moment today, to think about the beautiful Maddie, and send positive thoughts to her wonderful parents - Heather and Mike. They, and many many others, are remembering Maddie today at 2:30pm. Remember that life is so precious. Cherish every moment.

I'm wearing purple today, in honor of this butterfly that touched so many lives forever. I can't stop thinking about some of the words from one of my kids' favorite books, On the Night You Were Born. "If ever you doubt just how special you are, or wonder who loves you, how much and how far, listen to geese honking high in the sky - they're singing a song to remember you by. Or look at the bears asleep at the zoo, it's because they've been dancing all night for you. For never before, in story or rhyme, has the world ever known a you, my friend. And it never will, not ever again."

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Hoppy Easter

Had to say it...I couldn't help myself.

Seesa with Snowflake and Milly with Butterfly

Hope the bunny was good to you this year!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

41 things

About me.

1. My birthday is April 11th, I'm 41 today
2. I had an 80s karaoke party for my 40th birthday last year
3. Listening to 80s music just makes me happy
4. Singing almost any music makes me really happy
5. I've lived almost my whole life in the San Francisco Bay Area
6. I lived in Michigan for a few years when I was in Elementary School
7. I gave birth to both of my kids in San Francisco
8. If I'd started earlier, and didn't work full-time, I'd have more kids
9. I love being a Mom
10. Outside of the US, I've traveled to Canada, London, France, Italy, Switzerland, Netherlands, Tahiti, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand
11. Within the US, I think New York is my favorite city, second to SF
12. When I was younger, my family drove across the country together
13. My Dad died of cancer when I was eleven years old
14. I have a younger sister
15. My Mom is a nurse
16. My Father-in-Law was an FBI Agent
17. Three men I've dated have been adopted, including my husband
18. We may adopt a child someday
19. In college, I had an internship as a sexual health counselor
20. I have a degree is in psychology
21. I work in Finance
22. At work, I probably use my psychology skills more than anything I've learned about Finance
23. I wanted to be an exotic animal trainer
24. I love animals
25. Growing up, I was very active in 4-H
26. In college, I had a dog, cat, rabbit and rat as pets all at the same time - and they all got along with each other
27. We currently have four rabbits, but I'd like to have more animals - I just have to ease my husband into it...
28. I'd love to live on a farm, but I'd still want to be close to a major city
29. I hate running
30. I ran mostly walked a marathon in Hawaii
31. I passionately support a good cause
32. I've attempted to get on the reality show Survivor
33. I love reality TV
34. Skydiving is the most exhilarating thing I've ever done
35. I'm an optimist (which I've found to be a good thing when jumping out of an airplane)
36. I think I'm really good at seeing both sides of any issue
37. I love camping
38. Fall is my favorite time of year, especially rainy days
39. My favorite food is popcorn and a glass of milk with ice in it
40. I don't like the taste of coffee, but I love the smell of it
41. I didn't realized just how much I love writing, until I started my blog

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Hug your kids extra tight today

I'm reminded of how precious life is, as I mourn along with so many in the blogging community, the loss of little Madeline.

Hug your kids extra tight today, send your thoughts and prayers to the Spohrs, and give if you can to the March of Dimes in Maddie's name.

I usually write my Thankful Thursday post tonight, and I was going to write about something that I heard in an interview with Michael J Fox. He was talking about how his Parkinson's gives him a wonderful perspective on life. Whenever his kids want to show him something or talk to him about something, he stops whatever he is doing - because nothing is more important than being with them in that moment. His condition reminds him daily, that life is precious.

So precious.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Happy Birthday Milly

My little Milly turned the big 3 years old today! In honor of my beautiful baby girl's birthday, I wanted to write her birth story.

We knew Milly would be born on April 3rd very early in my pregnancy. I had to be scheduled for a c-section at 38 weeks, because of issues that I had during the end of my first pregnancy. Even though the actual day of her birth was not going to be a surprise, the fact that she was going to be a girl was a surprise. Since we did not know, we searched for boy and girl names. It didn't take long to settle on the name Amelia for a girl. It had a beautiful ring to me, and I really liked the nickname, Milly. A name for a boy was more difficult for us. One name that we both liked was Beret. (Or Barrett, or Berhet...) It's actually my middle name, so it had meaning to us. I really liked it, and my husband decided he loved it for a boy's name.

Less than a month before I was going to give birth, I decided that I just didn't like our chosen boy name. I wasn't all that wild about it as my middle name while I was growing up. In fact, after I was married, I made my maiden name my middle name when I changed my last name. At first, I really liked the idea of using the name for my son. Then, I was having trouble deciding on how to spell it, and eventually just decided that I didn't want to use it. To say that my husband was not happy that I'd changed my mind, is an understatement. It's quite possibly the biggest argument we've ever had. He was already attached to that name, and he had no interest in searching for a new one. On top of it, he did not want to go to the hospital without having chosen a name for a boy, so now he felt like the "deadline" to find a new name was looming.

Slow forward (because that's what the next few weeks was like...) to the day before I was scheduled to go into the hospital for the big day. It was a gorgeous day. Everywhere I looked, spring was blossoming. My sister came over for dinner with her twins. We took fun pictures of my big belly on that last day that baby#2 would inhabit it. I loved being pregnant - both times - and I knew I was going to miss the feeling of having a baby inside of me. It was kind of surreal knowing that I was going to be giving birth to my baby the very next day.

The next morning, I was excited, but nervous. I was nervous about the obvious - what would it be like to go straight into a c-section, would everything go alright, would be baby be ok. I was also nervous about the fact that we still had not settled on a name for a boy. I take that back. My husband had settled on a name. The original name choice. I had settled on a name too. A new one. We had not come to an agreement about which one we would use.

The nurse who was assigned to me for my check-in and preparation for the birth was new, and still learning. She was so sweet and patiently guided me through the process. At one point, I glanced at her name badge. Her name was Amelia. It was at that point, the moment that I saw her name, I knew that everything was going to be ok. I still was unsure about whether I was having a boy or a girl. I didn't really see it as a sign that I was having a girl, but a peacefulness came over me that told me that whatever happens, it's going to be alright.

Fast forward to the moment when my baby was born (because that's how the next few hours went - like mere minutes). My doctor pulled her out, and announced "it's a girl"! I was truly amazed, and so very happy. I couldn't wait to tell my sister, who was in the room with us when she arrived, my new baby girl's full name. Milly's middle name is my sister's first name.

She was just beautiful.

She's even more beautiful every day.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Thankful Thursday

A good friend of mine, T. Rose, shared the most beautiful quote with me. I thought it was perfect for a Thankful Thursday post.

"We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses."

It's true - attitude is everything.

p.s. His last name really is Rose. How appropriate is that?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April Fools Day shenanigans

I'd forgotten until today, how much my husband LOVES April Fools Day. The first thing he did when he got up, was to play a joke on the kids. He came into their bedroom and gave them each a stick of gum in a silver wrapper. When they discovered that there was no actual gum in the wrapper - "April Fools!!!". They thought it was hilarious. It helped that he did give them the actual gum afterwards.

The day went on like that. My husband playing little April Fools tricks on the girls and vice versa. He even scanned the Internet during the kids' bath time, and relayed various stories of April Fools jokes that companies had played today.

When he was a teenager, my husband called his Dad at work - his Dad worked for the FBI, and all of his Dad's fellow agents were listening in on the call - and told him that he had gotten his girlfriend pregnant. He said his Dad was pretty calm about the whole thing, but extremely relieved to find out it was just a prank.

What April Fools shenanigans were you up to today? Any stories of glory from April Fools past?

If you don't read this post, you're going in time out

There are so many books on raising kids, and the best way to "motivate" your child to listen, behave and basically do what you ask them to do.

I've tried many different things from positive discipline, rewards and sticker charts to time outs and just plain losing my temper and yelling. Especially when I have to tell my daughter to do something for the umpteenth time. That was my Mom's favorite phrase by the way, "for the umpteenth time". Good Lord, I'm turning into my Mother. I have admit that I seem to fall back on threats and bribery most of the time. I'm getting tired of hearing myself say things like, "if you don't be quiet and go to sleep, I am going to take one of your doggies" or "if you put your shoes on right now, I'll give you a special treat". I don't think these are the best parenting methods, and I can see that the effectiveness of these methods is only going to last so long.

I need some new ideas.

I've found that I get the best advice from friends who are parents, and have real life examples of what has worked for them. For example, a good friend once told me that it takes one day to make a habit and three days to break a habit. I've found this to be true, and remembering this has gotten me through the few days it usually takes to get my kids out of bad habits. Another good friend once said, if your kids are doing something that drives you crazy, don't worry - it won't last; and if they are doing something you really like, enjoy it - because it won't last! That has always helped remind me to enjoy the good stuff while it lasts, and not sweat the tough stuff, because it will pass.

So, I'm asking you, my friends, for your advice on this topic. What are your best motivation methods and parenting techniques?

p.s. I'm also guest posting today over on Andrea's blog - email me if you need the link at heartatpreschool (at) gmail (dot) com

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