What my kids have taught me about life – Part 2

A follow up to my last post on this subject matter.  Kids – they can be stubborn, picky, funny, and loving…and they do offer some tidbits on living.

  • Eat when you’re hungry…not when you’re scheduled to.  And eat only what sounds good off your plate.  Who cares if it’s a tan starchy food and nothing else?  I laughed aloud when I saw this book about picky children on Amazon – ‘You Have to F*****g Eat’ – the genius follow-up to ‘Go the F**k to Sleep.’  Man, this author hits the nail on the head!

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  • Recently when at a park, my daughter ran around for a good hour with a little girl she made friends with.  Later on, I asked her if she knew the little girl’s name.  She said, “No, momma, she only spoke Spanish so she didn’t understand me.”  I love that they didn’t let a language barrier get in the way of a fun time.
  • If you need to pray, just open your younger sibling’s mouth and yell down his or her throat because “Jesus lives in people’s hearts” so that’s how He can hear you.
  • Be brave.  When my daughter was hospitalized last summer, she was braver than I could ever imagine being.  The doctors and nurses kept commenting how warm and easygoing she was.  For such a traumatic situation, she sure didn’t show any signs of distress.  I wish I could take such things in stride like that.
  • Have good follow-through.  Once in a great while I let things slip through the cracks.  Okay, probably more than once in awhile.  Lately, I feel my follow-through has left something to be desired.  But my daughter – she doesn’t let much slip through.  She’s always quick to remind me of any promise I made or the treat I mentioned she can have later in the day.  Kids don’t miss a beat!
  • Be observant.  How come the they always find the tiniest new thing I have in the house and they’re completely drawn to it.  And if you play ‘Memory’ with your kid, you feel completely inadequate.  I can’t remember what I ate for dinner yesterday, but they remember the placement of every.single.card.  Their little brains are sponges.
  • To make the most of your day, make sure you wake well before the sun comes up.  Don’t wait for the 6 o’clock hour – sleeping in is overrated.

 

 

 

 

Swing Kids

Sometimes I don’t know how us mothers do it…as I sat rocking my son from 1:30 to 2:30am early Monday morning, I didn’t know how I would keep pushing through.  I kept thinking, how in the world will I make it through the day tomorrow?  All I knew is in that moment, in that hour, he needed me.  When he woke for the day at 5:20, I had the very same thoughts that I had three short hours earlier.  Somehow, some way though, I did make it through the day.  Just like always.  Even if it was one of those typical Mondays – smoke alarm going off from bacon I burned, a short car nap for my son (no transfer to crib) which meant he and I never got the rest we needed.  That kind of a day.  A friend was coming for dinner, so I had an extra time-consuming meal to make.  Yet it all worked out somehow.  Again, it always does.  I felt overwhelmingly grateful when my head finally hit the pillow at 9pm.

As I sat and rocked him for that hour Sunday night, I couldn’t help but wonder what is in us as mothers that pushes us like nothing else?  We think of giving up sometimes, but we don’t.  We never do.  When we don’t think we have the strength, we somehow find it.  When we think all of our patience is gone, we manage to muster up some more when we need it.  How us mothers do it, I’ll never know.

I feel like parenting is perhaps the biggest test I’ll face in life.  I’m constantly worried I’m failing the test…and failing it miserably.  When they don’t eat the way I want them to, I feel like I’m a failure as a parent.  When we have a challenging night (or week) of sleep, I wonder what I’m doing wrong.  Even when they’ve gotten ear infections, I’ve actually questioned if there was something I could have done to prevent them.  It’s absurd.  Where does this guilt come from?  Many of us have this intense need to strive for perfection, but that will assuredly result in feeling like a failure too.

It’s easy to look at the next parent and think they have it all together or it doesn’t seem like they’re facing the same challenge I am at the moment.  But why would they be?

At times we will undoubtedly switch places and we’ll be on a high when they’re on a low…it’s a constant ebb and flow.  I sometimes picture parenting as all of us playing on a park playground.  We’re all on different equipment, trying it out.  While a friend and her child may be swinging happily together this week, my little one may be slipping off the monkey bars into my arms.  No one’s ahead of anybody, but we are all on an equal playing field.  What happens next is anyone’s guess.

If there’s anything I’ve learned from parenting, it’s that things are constantly changing.  I’m not sure why anything surprises me anymore!  What I feel matters most is how I handle whatever it is that’s changing at the moment.  For me, it means pushing through until I know I can get a break.  After a rough week I’ll always need a refresher to press the recharge button in order to take the reins again come Monday.  I don’t let myself get to the point of burn-out because that’s just not good for anyone in the house.

And so, I plunge into yet another season of self-care.  Recognizing what I need following a draining week can be the best way of taking care of myself.  I may not get to refuel for a bit but eventually I know a small break is coming.  A pedicure, a cup of tea with a friend, or a workout session alone will typically do the trick.  It’s nice to block out the noise, tune into my thoughts, and just “be” for a few hours.

And I have to remind myself to take heart that next week will probably look brighter.  These phases – they thankfully don’t last forever.

And hopefully, we’ll be the ones on the swings next week.

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Time to ‘Let it Go’?

Halloween has come and gone.  Not surprisingly, the day saw countless Elsas, many Annas, plenty of Olafs and even carrots and reindeer running around.  My daughter was one of the Frozen fanatics, dressing as America’s favorite Ice Queen.  Since the day she first saw the movie, she declared she would be Elsa for Halloween.  There was no changing her mind.

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The obsession with this movie is mind-boggling in some ways.  We even went to a Frozen-themed Halloween spooktacular at our friends’ house, complete with snowball fights, aqua-colored tortillas at the taco truck and a visit from Anna and Elsa themselves.

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I guess I can’t say I don’t understand the hype – I’m definitely a fan of the movie, and I enjoy the soundtrack, even if I can sing it in my sleep I’ve heard it so many times.  The message of the movie is great, in that it isn’t the typical Disney plot where the princess is rescued by a handsome prince.  It shows sibling love, and a girl who is ashamed of her gift but slowly accepts it, coming into her own.  It’s been nearly one year since Frozen was released in theaters, and the obsession is as big as ever – as was telling from Halloween.

So instead of hating, I have embraced the hype, being a parent to a preschooler who loves Frozen as much as the next little girl.  Here are the best parts about this movie in my mind:

  • “Let it Go” is a song that plays in my head all day – my mantra you could say.   You can use it about house work, your child grating on your nerves, or a whole other slew of things.  It just works.
  • The obsession kids have over this movie provides comedic relief some days.  One time I thought I was being nice by putting the soundtrack on in my car for my daughter when she suddenly screamed, “Nooo!  Don’t turn Frozen on!!”  I was shocked.  “Why not?”  “Because I don’t have an Elsa braid in right now.”  Oooooh.  Of course.  You can’t sing along to Frozen songs without a french braid.  What was I thinking.
  • Even though my poor stepson groans every time the soundtrack comes on in our car, it has calmed our other son down on numerous car rides when he was a bit younger.  He especially loves, “Do you want to build a snowman” because of the little kid voices, I think.
  • My one-year-old son has been connecting two words lately to complete a phrase.  His first phrase was “I do” and the second was “let it go” – sad, but true!  I’m sure he knows all the words to every song, even if he can’t belt them out like his sister.  He’s heard them enough times too.
  • I am no Disney fanatic (I have visited Disneyland exactly 3 times in 9 years of living in Southern California) but I find this site linking Frozen, The Little Mermaid and Tangled together fascinating.  My daughter pointed out several times that Rapunzel is in a scene of Frozen and I never paid much attention to what she was saying – but she’s right!  Whether or not it’s true, it’s cool seeing a movie from my own childhood connect with one my daughter loves now.

Yes, sometimes it’s annoying as a parent, being inundated with all things Frozen – but, all in all, there are worse things for a child to be into, in my opinion.  This is one trend I won’t be sad to see go…but while it’s here I’ll sit back and enjoy what seems like the 100th showing of the movie in our house.  Pass the popcorn one more time.

The times, they are a changing

I’m not sure how it’s possible that the sweet baby days are behind me and here we go, onto the toddler and preschool years.  Wasn’t my daughter just born – not about to turn four years old in two weeks?  How is it that when I look back at pictures from even just one year ago I can barely remember those times?

The saying “the days are long but the years are short” keeps running through my head – it certainly rings true being a stay-at-home mom.  Some days – they just drag on.  And when they do, I find myself dividing my day into smaller increments in order to push through.  Once I hit around 3pm, I think ‘okay, I can do this.’  I’ve made it to the home stretch.

Don’t get me wrong – I feel fortunate to be home with my children, but some days are just not easy.  So many older moms love to say to me, “Enjoy every moment because it goes by too quickly.”  But as a girlfriend so aptly pointed out – no one says that to the person heading out the door to their 40-hour a week job.  Why do they feel the need to say it to mothers, especially those who stay at home?  No one can enjoy every second of any job.  And this particular job offers virtually no breaks.  And this job physically and emotionally wears on you arguably more than most others.  There are days when I feel all I did was harp on them and ask for listening ears.  Some days I am so tired of hearing myself talk.  Some days every single thing feels hard.  Some days I don’t go to the bathroom alone all day – not even once.  My shower yesterday entailed four or five minutes with my screaming toddler on the other side of the shower door, mad I couldn’t hold him for that short amount of time.

The days are long, just like the quote says.

I find myself wanting to freeze time in some ways but I want to fast forward in others.  Being a mother can bring such a strange dichotomy of emotions.  There are joyous moments, for sure.  Seeing my two laugh at each other throughout the day.  Noticing my daughter’s amazement at her brother’s ever-increasing vocabulary.  Witnessing first steps, first foods, and being there for every scraped knee and disappointment.  I wouldn’t take back any of it.  But I am certainly not enjoying every single moment.  And the person who says they are has to be fooling themselves – at least in my opinion.  This job is hard.  It offers no accolades, no annual review and no raises.

But it does offer payment in another form – hugs, kisses and beautiful little words of wisdom that only children can offer.  The good is good and makes up for the challenging times in so many ways.

And, sure, I grieve the fact that there will be no more babies in my arms and that those days are gone.  But I can’t say I am not ready for our next stage of life.  So as I look back at old pictures, I am reminded that every new season brings its own set of challenges as well as its own beauty.

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The times, they definitely are a changing.  Bring them on.

Life Simplified – Part 2

With the way life’s been going lately, I’m grateful for simple things.  Meals that are low maintenance, our lack of extracurricular activities in this season of life (at least for the two little ones), and a smaller house that is not over cluttered, just to name a few.  My little guy was sick and feverish this week, so that meant even less things than normal got done.  Despite his clinginess and our collective lack of sleep, I still managed to cook every night this week.  That does not typically happen when things get crazy around here.  Part of this can be attributed to good meal planning and a slow cooker, and part is due to a visiting cousin who was such a big help all week.  I don’t know what I would have done without her!

I hope she didn’t mind the simple meals I fed her, but sometimes simple is good.  One night we had slow cooker spaghetti squash and meatballs.  Another evening was Greek salads using rotisserie chicken.  One night we made pork chops in the slow cooker and served with broccolini.  Easy, but healthy and all whole foods.  I’ve gravitated to those types of meals over the last year or so and try to plan out my meals to minimize waste and cut costs.  Of course, sometimes I’ll get in a creative mood and will make something a little more complex.  But especially on weeknights, I feel like the easier, the better.

As I mentioned, having a smaller house means less mess and clutter overall.  With kids it feels impossible to avoid clutter altogether, but I try to do a sweep of the kids’ toys every few months where I swap out certain ones and pitch others.  I also keep a donate box in the garage that I am continuously adding to.  We also have our home professionally cleaned twice a month which is honestly the best thing ever.  Otherwise, nothing would ever be clean at the exact same time.  I’m so grateful to have this luxury, and it’s one I do not take for granted!

The past few weeks I’ve also been trying to unsubscribe to junk emails as they come in rather than just hitting delete.  I get so annoyed with all those emails clogging up my inbox and then I tend to miss the more important ones.  I don’t even know how I got on some of those email lists!

In this stage of life, I’m also conscious of not overcommitting and tend to think less is more as far as scheduled activities with the kids are concerned.  I know myself well enough to do this with my own time too.  I’ve had to scale back on most volunteer work, knowing it’s a healthy decision at this time in my life.  I know in a different season I’ll be ready to embrace those things again, but my children are currently my main mission and I’m okay with that.

I don’t log onto social media often, and that’s another way to minimize feeling pulled in several different directions (’cause that happens all day long anyway with kids).

All of these things help me feel like I’m not a slave to certain tasks, possessions, and activities – cooking will always be there, but no reason to complicate it.  Life is so busy as it is, that even with these simplified points, it still feels chaotic!

I’ll leave you with a great website and some tips to simplify your life that I found useful and affirmed my decisions.  I don’t think there is anything wrong with saying no if your plate is full, and taking a step back when life is in a crazy season.  Sometimes slowing down helps us better soak up the simple, and often, best things of this life.

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My Shining Superstar

On Tuesday, after my little guy woke from his nap, the three of us ran to the grocery store for our weekly shopping.  About halfway through the trip, I stopped to browse the meat department when all of a sudden I heard a crash and my kids crying.  I instantly turned around to find my grocery cart on its side on the floor with its contents everywhere.  My son had been in the front part and was now face down on the tile with his arm trapped under the cart and my daughter was lying to the side on the floor.  I quickly got my son out as strangers surrounded me.  I then grabbed my daughter with my other arm.  I sat down and held them both as they screamed in my arms.  I literally felt like I was in shock – people picked my stuff up and put it back in the cart and asked how they could help me.  Quite a difference from the shopping trips I am used to.

I was so worried the kids were seriously hurt, especially my little guy – but both stopped crying after a minute or two and seemed to be fine other than some scrapes.  Apparently my little girl had climbed on the end of the cart and swayed it to the side a bit, and down it went.  My gosh, why can’t we seem to catch a break?  It really feels like one thing after another lately.  While I’m so incredibly thankful my children are healthy after hospital visits last month and this minor incident, sadly, we are grieving a death in the family this week.

So many things are making me feel scattered – plus I’ve been sick – so I’m definitely not on my A-game.  In fact, I am far from it.  When I took my daughter to school Monday, the teacher informed me it was her week to be “superstar” which they would have reminded me on Friday but she was out sick with a cold.  So when you’re superstar, you get to take on a variety of tasks like act as line leader, and pick out songs and activities for the class.  Also, the parent is to bring a snack and the child can bring a favorite toy in from home.  So on Tuesday I made sure to purchase a snack and we showed up Wednesday with her toy to share as well.  I was feeling proud of myself for remembering those things – that is, until her teacher asked, “Where’s her superstar poster?”  There’s a poster?  What?  She then explained I need to do a poster of pictures, stickers and the like for my daughter to show the class during her week as superstar.

Okay, let me get right to that.  The many small challenges that ensued after that to complete said poster became almost comical.  I’ll spare you of the boring details, but I had a few of my girlfriends laughing as I texted them updates of the ludicrous journey.  One being this:

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You get the idea.  I kept asking, does this stuff happen to other people?!  All you can do is chuckle after awhile.

I can’t help but feel the scene at the grocery store is an analogy of my life at the present time.  Sitting on the floor, holding both of my crying kids, with all of my things scattered around me.  Paralyzed with my hands so full.  My children are both in a clingy, ‘wanting mommy’ state, and I am feeling stretched a little thin in more ways than one.  Sleep has been all over the place with both kids, and it seems like sickness keeps knocking us down.  In my mind, I want to forge ahead, quickly leaving these difficult days behind.  But I am sitting.  I’m as scattered as can be, my life’s plate feels full.  I hope I’ll be able to stand up soon.

I’m choosing to be grateful for overall health, wellness and all of the blessings I’ve been given.

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“Only in the darkness can you see the stars.”

– Martin Luther King Jr.

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 {photo courtesy of my little superstar and her poster}

 

Halloween Stresses Me Out

It’s that time of year, and I have once again procrastinated on Halloween costumes.   For me, for my daughter (at least part of hers is done) and I haven’t even begun to think about what my little guy will be.  Halloween always stresses me out.

I’ve never really been a fan of dressing up – chalk it up to being self-conscious, frugal, or a combination of both.  I think I’ve passed that along to my kids now – not that they know it.  Mostly the frugal/cheap side of me.  Half the time, one of my kids thinks they want to wear a certain costume but when it comes down to it, they change their mind.  Also here in Southern California, the weather is famously unpredictable in October.  So you may be in trouble if you buy a bulky, warm costume for your child and then there’s a heat wave.  For the rest of the country, the weather is just as uncertain – I feel like it was always cold and raining on Halloween growing up.

And you might have to help steer your child in the right direction in the dressing up department…if it’s too scary or you have a feeling they may not want to wear it when it comes down to it.  When they’re older, it can easily get inappropriate so there’s that too.  There’s a lot more than meets the eye to just picking out a costume, it seems.

Then there’s the candy you need to buy for the trick-or-treaters coming to your house.  Sometimes you buy a ton of candy and no one shows up.  But the times you don’t have enough, ironically, it’s a record year for trick or treating in your neighborhood!  Everything is a crap-shoot for this holiday, it seems!

The kids stay up later than usual, they taste some candy, and inevitably the next day is a bit of a downer.  The excitement is over and you have cranky, tired kids on your hands.  I’m thankful this year Halloween is on a Friday so I’ll have help the next day.  I have a feeling the teachers of the country are grateful for this fact too.

The other thing is all this prep goes into just a couple of hours – it’s too much.  The kids rarely wear their costumes again – I refuse to spend much money on it for that very reason.  I’m just frugal about certain things though – my husband and I chose to have a very small, inexpensive wedding with a simple dinner afterwards in order to use the money on other things.  That’s just us.  Everyone values things differently – I know many people do budget vacations and we are more likely to splurge on travel or experiences than actual material items.  But I digress.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t spoil the holiday for my kids – if they’re excited, I’m certainly excited for and with them.  I can totally get into the spirit…I just maybe feel it’s a little overrated is all.  This year we have some low-key plans with friends and I’m certain it will be a really fun evening.  Family, fun, friends and food – mixed in with a little spook – how can I not be on board with that?

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 {photo courtesy of my daughter}

 

 

 

Life Simplified – Part 1

Simplification is a topic I have been thinking about a lot the past couple of years.  Simplifying food, simplifying toys, time commitments, you name it.  Life is so busy.  There are certainly unavoidable events that come up like doctor appointments, phone calls to bill companies, running errands, etc.  Those things take up time and are out of my control, so I try and focus on what I can control.

When my daughter was one, I attended a parenting class at a local baby boutique and came away with some valuable information.  The workshop, put on by two therapists, focused on discipline and becoming minimalistic as far as toys and activities, as to not overwhelm our children’s play space and time.  The book they recommended to support this concept was Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids.

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As a new parent, reading that book brought such relief to me that I didn’t have to “do it all.”  My child did not have to be in activities from a young age and learn about letters and numbers at age 2!  She just needed to be a kid and play and explore her world.  The book also focuses on establishing a healthy rhythm and creating traditions.  Things like fostering a sacred space at dinner time by lighting a candle and discussing the highs and lows of the day.  Or a family walk at the same time each day.

Or intentionally scaling back on toys, keeping no more than 15 or so toys (or sets of toys) out at any one time.  The author used the analogy of your desk at your office – if it’s covered in books and papers and clutter, how are you going to work?  Will you feel calm or stressed and overwhelmed, not knowing where anything is?  Chances are, you’ll feel scattered and unable to focus on any one task for a long period of time.  Same goes for kids and toys.  When you minimize their options, they play longer with the toys that are out.  I try to do a “sweep” of the toys we have out every few months.  I inevitably end up donating some, pitching the mismatched knick knacks lying around and then I rotate in some new ones and put some others away.

Also, I try to follow Simplicity Parenting’s suggestion of toys that are open-ended, meaning they’ll stimulate creativity and pretend play.  Some of those include an art table and art supplies, a play kitchen, cars, a baby doll, blocks, legos, books, and of course, we have bikes, scooters and chalk outside.  We don’t have too many “noise-maker” toys (thank God!) and I try to keep everything in baskets or on shelves that are somewhat uncluttered so the toys are easily seen.

The book also recommends limiting your child’s extracurricular activities to avoid overcommitment – and so that the family keeps their sanity.  We are trying to practice that in our house.  My daughter did a gymnastics class that ended in the Spring and then we picked up swimming in the summer.  Now that swim is done, we are taking a break and will maybe try dance at some point.  I enjoy the freedom that comes with open schedules where we can explore parks and meet friends and play.  Even when there is just one activity, that feels hectic to me.  I can’t imagine having multiple activities to attend each week!  I feel like there is plenty of time for that in the future, and even then, I want to keep the activities to a minimum if possible.

Kim John Payne, author of Simplicity Parenting, makes a compelling case for limited activities and sports at a young age:

Contrary to popular belief, starting sports earlier and with more intensity is not even going to result in a college scholarship, much less a professional athlete.  According to the Journal of Sports Behavior, “By tenth grade, more than 90 percent of high school sophomores had dropped out of an organized sport they’d started.”  Payne attests, “Many kids are quitting as they approach adolescence, just when the structure and rigors of organized sports and martial arts have so much to offer them in their quest for individuality, in dependence, and maturity.”  The reality is that “A child’s love of an activity is not enough to protect him or her from the effects of pursuing it too much, and too soon.”

 {source: Richmond Family Magazine}

I am so glad I came across Simplicity Parenting – it is one of those books that will always be on my shelf to refer to throughout the years.  I love the ‘less is more’ concept and will share more on that with regards to other areas of life soon!

Not So “Super”market

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Twice last week while at the grocery store with my children, a stranger who had less items to buy approached me to ask if she could cut in front of me in line.  Both times I said, “Sure, go ahead.”  The first time didn’t bother me and even the second time I wasn’t too phased – but that time, I only had about 8 items in my cart, not a whole week’s worth of groceries.  And what was more perplexing is that the woman said, “Thanks, I’m in a big hurry” and then proceeded to slowly count out her exact change to the cashier.  Not to mention, right before her request, my son started crying and I picked him up.  When it was my turn to check out, the cashier said she was appalled at the woman’s behavior.  She said she can’t understand when people ask someone with children to cut in front of them.  And she pointed out that I had a fussy baby in my arms, which made it even more rude.

Not gonna lie, a few minutes into the customer’s coin-counting antics, I did think to myself, “No problem, lady – you go first and take your sweet time while I hold my son and do everything one-handed!”  I was glad the cashier seemed equally, if not more, annoyed.

I can’t say I was surprised these two customers asked such favors of me, as I’ve noticed a pattern these past few years of post-baby grocery shopping.  I’m finding I’m the regular recipient of not-so-nice glares from kidless customers.  It’s already a challenge to please two children while I mentally note what I still need and what aisle it’s in.  And then to deal with rude strangers on top of it?  Not fun.

One time maybe 6 months ago, I had the baby in the Ergo and my toddler in the cart at a grocery store I frequent often.  I remember both of my little ones were having an off day.  I reached down to grab a 6-pack of soda and one slipped out and fell onto the floor, exploding all over me and a tiny bit went onto another shopper’s ankle.  The look of disgust and horror (instead of sympathy) on the woman’s face made me cringe.  I mean, it was clearly an accident, and my hands were full.  Of course I didn’t expect the woman to help clean it up or anything but I just felt she could have acted a little bit nicer.  She would not even look at me so that I could apologize – she turned around and left the aisle as quickly as she could.  I leaned down to grab the can to stop it from spraying and then tried to clean it while keeping one hand on my baby who was practically upside down in the carrier.  I told a store employee about the mess so no one slipped and fell and he didn’t seem too thrilled either.  It made an already challenging morning feel even harder with all the small obstacles adding up.

I hate that a trip to the store feels like I’m a burden to others, when in reality, I’m just doing what everyone else is there to do:  buy food to feed my family.  I just happen to have my children in tow.  Sorry, they’re not old enough to be in school and I’m not going to get a sitter every time I need to run an errand.  I’m not sure what to think…are people just rushed?  Self-centered?  Simply focused on their own agendas?  Are their kids grown and they’ve forgotten what it’s like?

Whatever the reason, it has made me more mindful since becoming a mother to hold doors for parents with strollers and pick up the item a toddler throws from a shopping cart for the baby-wearing mother.  Sadly, I know I wasn’t perfect at going out of my way to help out before I had kids.  But, as this blogger so eloquently put it, it’s actually worse when the parent of grown children behaves in this way.  I couldn’t agree more.  The entire blog post is perfection, but here’s that excerpt:

Fine. Ignorant non-parents, who don’t know what they’re talking about, imposing ridiculous standards on actual parents because it makes them feel superior. I get it. I don’t like it, but I get it. As bad as you people are, you’re not nearly as horrible as the second type: actual parents with grown children who judge other parents, as if they haven’t been in the exact same situation many times. I had an older guy complain to me recently about babies that cry during church. He said: “Back when our children were babies, you didn’t have this problem.” Interesting. Apparently babies didn’t cry in the 50’s. The whole “crying baby” thing is a new fad, it would seem. These folks who had kids a long time ago seem to have a rather selective memory when it comes to their own days of parenting young kids. 
Read more at http://themattwalshblog.com/2013/09/15/dear-parents-you-need-to-control-your-kids-sincerely-non-parents/#jzUzVWSzQ0sML0Mx.99

Non-parent, parent with grown children, parent with children present, it doesn’t matter.  We are all doing what we can.  Please, please know that I am not trying to bother you or ruin your shopping experience by just ‘being.’  I’m just trying to get through my list too.  I would appreciate your patience at times and please excuse me if I move a little slow through the aisles.  And if we make eye contact, you could actually smile back at me.  That may be the bright spot of my morning.

 

 

Life is beautiful

The last month or so has been a crazy whirlwind…from a concussion for me to a sinus infection for my husband and then a lower respiratory thing I had for awhile.  And then last week my two little ones came down with a cold.  Colds are never fun, but these seemed to be pretty mild and probably due to being back in the new school year.  However, I had no idea what was in store for us later in the week.

On Wednesday, my daughter was 4 days into her cold and feeling good, so it seemed safe to send her to school.  She had probably the best swim lesson of the summer later that afternoon.  So it was surprising when later on, she was up all night long with a sudden fever.  The poor thing felt so awful she just couldn’t sleep.  When she finally slept from 4am to 7:30am, it was such a relief.  But when she came downstairs after waking, I immediately saw that something was wrong.  Her facial features were swollen and distorted.  I tried to not freak out as I talked normally to her and asked how she was feeling.  The second the pediatrician’s office opened at 8 o’clock, I called to get an appointment.

The doctor who saw her that morning did not seem overly concerned.  She said to have her take some Benadryl and that the swelling seemed related to her cold or an allergy.  I kept pressing.  “But she has a fever – a fever doesn’t go along with allergies.”  I asked if it maybe was some sort of infection.  The doctor insisted since drainage was clear, she did NOT need an antibiotic.  My mind and heart just felt uneasy, and my instinct told me something bad was going on.  As we left, we ran into her primary care doc (who was booked full that day) and she had concern all over her face when she saw my daughter.  She insisted an antibiotic should have been prescribed, but she said to try the Benadryl first and come back the next day if the swelling was not better.

Long story short, things did not improve.  Swelling was worse the next morning and blood was coming from her nose.  Our second all-nighter was followed by another trip to the doctor’s office.  A nurse practitioner reluctantly prescribed an antibiotic but she seemed very perplexed with my daughter’s symptoms.  She said to take her to the emergency room if the swelling got any worse.  I kept asking what that means, and I was getting angry she couldn’t fix whatever was wrong NOW.  I did not like the ambiguity I felt from her, and I called my husband in tears after the appointment.  He didn’t like it either.  After we consulted with two doctor friends of ours, the nurse practitioner called me at home and said to take my daughter to the ER at a children’s hospital.

My sitter rushed over to watch my son and we left for the hospital.  I felt a sense of relief to be at least on our way to figuring out what was wrong.  My daughter, God bless her, said on the way there, “Mom, we are having a girl date to the hospital!”  God, I love her.  Here I was freaking out in my head while she was just excited to be alone with me.  When we got to the hospital, the ER doctor took one look at her blood-crusted nose and swollen features and told me the seriousness of the situation.  He said bacteria must have entered a tear in her nasal membranes, which can be very dangerous, as it can travel to the brain quickly.  She would need to start intravenous antibiotics right away.  He said he was admitting her.  I will never forget the look of concern on that doctor’s face…I don’t think I’ve ever felt such fear as I did in those moments.

But somehow I had to be strong and hold it together for my precious girl.  My husband was in LA and stuck in traffic trying to get to us.  As they pricked my daughter three times to get the IV in, I held her hand and put my cheek to hers and told her it would be okay.  She was so brave.  Much, much braver than me and how I felt on the inside.  A close girlfriend brought us dinner and my husband finally arrived two hours later.  We got the first blood results, and praise God, her complete blood count was normal.  No bacteria in her bloodstream at least.

The night was rough and filled with interruptions for checking vitals, changing IV bags, and my daughter waking up scared at times.  I slept with her for much of the night, my back crammed against the hard bedrail to make sure she felt comfortable and not crowded.  I wish I could say my head was in a better place that night, but fear was getting the best of me.  Dry heaving over the toilet in her room as she slept, I was a wreck on the inside…thoughts of “what if” kept creeping in.  I had no other choice but to give it to God and pray continuously He would heal my little girl.

The next morning, some swelling in her eyes had gone down, which was awesome news.  However, I had a sinking feeling in my stomach because I had noticed something on my son’s forehead the day before that was giving me worry.  I had a feeling it was the same thing my daughter had.  I showed a picture of it to the doctor making rounds at the hospital and she said he should go to Urgent Care because my instinct was probably right that he had the same bacterial infection.  My husband took him in, and that doctor sent him to the same ER we were at the night before.  When they arrived, my husband and I switched places so I could be with my son for his turn in the hospital.  It seemed likely one had passed the bacteria to the other, but my son’s was definitely less worrisome, as it was topical.

After my little guy was treated with shots of antibiotics and released, I headed back to my daughter’s isolation room.  I was feeling a little better that my daughter’s culture was not showing anything yet.  She tested negative for MRSA which was good news.  Thankfully, she responded to the antibiotics over the course of two days, and we were able to go home on Sunday.  The highlight of the weekend is when she was released from isolation Sunday and allowed to visit our hospital floor’s playroom.  We stayed the entire hour it was open and played just about every game and toy they had.  She was the happiest kid in the world!  The hospital was awesome, though, and had brought her play doh, barbies, a tea set, coloring and paints so she was able to play quite a bit in her room while still in isolation.

Both kids have been exhausted and emotionally drained from the weekend’s events.  After two doctor appointments this week, I am hoping they’re finally on the mend!  My amazing sister came to help us, which was a complete lifesaver.  She sanitized my entire house, and helped me cook, clean and do laundry all week, while also taking care of the kiddos.

For the first time, I’m finally able to sit and reflect on the weekend.  I can see so many lessons from this scary experience.  First and foremost, always trust your instinct when it comes to your children.  This was advice given to me when my daughter was a baby, and I could not agree more.  Keep questioning if things don’t feel right.

Secondly, the fears I have about small, insignificant things do not matter.  After what happened, I can more clearly see what fears are real and valid and which things are best to let go.  Even though I already knew this in my head and have worked through so much of it, sometimes it takes experiencing a rather significant (and in this case, traumatic) event to teach us what is important in life.  I’ve been feeling God say to me, “See?  You fret about these tiny things and try to control so much.  This was a HUGE thing and I had it!  I healed her for YOU!”  His love and faithfulness is so real.  If He had in his hands this big thing, why would I waste time on the insignificant worries.

I am the happiest mother in the world this week.  The small things, they are not getting to me.  I love God more today than I did last week.  I am more present in my days, and I can honestly say, life is beautiful.  There is joy in the every day, and this smile – need I say more?

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