Saturday, June 25, 2011

Our 6 year anniversary

Today was one of those days when I wish I had a video camera to capture just about every single minute.  I have those kind of moments just about every day, but was wonderful.

Randy and I celebrated our 6 year anniversary today, which, when we think about it is crazy, because it seems like the past six years has flown by in the blink of an eye or two.  This marks the first anniversary we'll celebrate with our family *complete*, all three kids taking part in celebrating their parent's happiness.  One of my dear friends told me that her children always joined in on the anniversary dinner or whatever other celebration they had.  It's a great way to show your kids just how important and special it is to celebrate their parent's love. 

Of course, taking time for just the two of us is important, but this year we chose to celebrate with the three people who have been so prominent in the first six years of our marriage.  Last night, I made a yummy dinner (so says the kids and especially Randy as well!), and we toasted our 6 years.  The kids were slightly confused, thinking we were getting married, and we began eating.  Raegan was napping soundly, so I was able to enjoy dinner to the fullest.  She woke up right near the end, as I was getting dessert ready (a girl after my own heart).  Dessert was so yummy, and even better, I was treated to about 8 hours of sleep from Raegan.

This morning, we headed up 'to the mountains'.  Brynn has been begging to go 'to the mountains' for quite some time.  I don't know what this little girl envisioned in her brain as 'to the mountains', but we aren't quite cut out for scaling any 14-er's any time soon.  Instead, we decided to head to Evergreen and have a picnic lunch near Lake Evergreen.  Here's some of our memories that I'll always take with me...

When we got home, we grilled burgers and ate al fresco.  The kids were angels, hysterical, and adorable.  I wish I could have captured the conversation on film so I could watch it all again years from now...when we have time to take a breath in between the madness of three young children. 

Who knows what the next 6 years will bring, but I couldn't imagine going through it all with anyone other than my sweetie!

Love you, babe!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day, Randy

I have mixed emotions about Father's Day.  On one hand, I have a fantastic husband who is an absolutely amazing daddy to our three kids.  Although we entered into parenthood by way of a wonderful surprise, watching the transformation he has gone through, from husband to daddy over the past 5 years has been nothing short of amazing.  There is literally nothing he wouldn't do for our kids.  Being side by side with him on this roller coaster of parenthood has given me the confidence and support I need to become the best mommy I can be.  Celebrating him as a father is a given.

On the other hand, Father's Day is a holiday in which we celebrate our fathers, as well as the fathers of our children.  Here's where I face a road block.  Over the past six years, the relationship between my father and me has become a speck of a fraction of what it had been when I was growing up.  I have memories with my dad, plenty of memories.  The struggle I face is to chip away at the shell I've built around myself in order to protect my feelings, protect my heart...and view those memories in a more positive and genuine light.  The reality is that I lace all of my memories with a negative connotation, and am searching for answers to questions and the ability to reach a level of peace with myself, my relationships, and my feelings when it comes to that side of my family.  I know it will happen, I am being patient.  I know God is working on me, and therefore I am open to receiving Him and what He has planned for me.  In the meantime, with regards to my relationships (or lack of) with my dad and his family, I am feeling lost.  As my own kids get older, I know I'll someday have to answer questions about my own father.  How will I answer them?  I'm not sure at this time, but all I can do is continue to pray.

Then there's the 'other' other hand.  This is the second Father's Day Randy's dad is spending in heaven.  My father-in-law was on of the most genuine, loyal, loving, and honorable men to ever have walked this earth.  I miss him every day.  I can't even begin to imagine what Randy is feeling, the sadness in his heart.  I struggle with knowing how to help my husband mourn, help him cope, help him celebrate his dad.  Without a true relationship between my dad and me, I can't express to him what I would do if I were in his shoes.  I can't express my feelings from a similar level of understanding, because the way in which I 'lost' my father isn't in death.

I'm a talker.  Randy is not.  I want to discuss feelings, talk things through.  Randy does not.  I don't want to drag up feelings, or old memories, or make speculations...I just want to talk.  Talking things through can make me feel better.  It can result in some pretty amazing things that might change moods, understanding, or coping mechanisms for the better.  Again, I continue to pray.

Happy Father's Day to all the dads and dads to be out there.  While I might not celebrate my father in the way I did years ago, I still do love the man who helped give me life and therefore wish him a Happy Father's Day.  While I might not be able to give my father-in-law a Father's Day hug, card, cake, grilled steak...I continue to miss him daily and send all my love up to heaven to a man who treated me like family from day one.  And while I might not say it as often as I should or as often as he deserves, I send Happy Father's Day wishes to my husband, the man who gave me three beautiful and amazing children.  Without him, I'd be lost.  Without him, I'd be broken.  I love you, Randy!

first hours as a daddy

getting to know Brynn

seasoned daddy, proud papa

introducing Gavin to his sister

he has common passtimes with his babies

they both love their naps!

in love with his kids

introducing Brynn to her sister 

couldn't ask for a better daddy for my babies!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Watch your tone!

Today I talked to one of my dear friends who just welcomed her first baby into the world just two weeks ago.  I had gone to visit her and meet her little handsome dude this past weekend and she was absolutely glowing with a 'new mommy' aura.  I found myself slightly envious. 

Not that I'm not a 'new mommy', but my 'new mommy' is speckled with the seemingly endless needs (and chatter) of a three- and five-year old.  While Raegan is new, the new-ness of learning 'how' to be a mom doesn't exist any more.  I'm by no means an expert, but I've pretty much got the little tricks down pat.  I've all but mastered how to get out the door in a timely fashion by pre-planning and factoring in the extra time required for the last minute diaper, outfit, and mommy's shirt changing.  I can change a diaper in record time and in any location.  Multitasking has taken on a new look as my family size increases.  Projectile vomit, diaper explosions, and trimming teeny tiny fingernails aren't really scary to me and knowing how to attend to each of them is basically second nature.

I also find myself doing things I never thought I would in order to achieve a level of peace and quiet that otherwise was unattainable.  Bribery, threats (safe, non-physical, and minor), and relying on Nick Jr. and Disney/Pixar have all become a part of my parenting that I'm not necessarily proud of, however they're an intergral part of what helps keep the peace when things get crazy.
While my friend and I were chatting today, I asked her how she was feeling, how things had been going over the past week since seeing her.  The excitement, overwhelming love, and amazement in her voice was very prevalent as she talked about how much she is in love with her son.  I couldn't help but smile.  I remembered when she was pregnant and was feeling nervous about know 'what to do' when her son was born.  I had told her at the time that she'd be absolutely fine, that instinct would kick in and she would figure it out as she went along.  From the sounds of it, what I had told her (along with every other mommy that I work with) was true.

After we hung up the phone, I found myself thinking about the tone of her voice when she was describing the budding relationship that she has with her son.  I remembered that tone, the awe and wonderment of discovering just how big your heart can grow when you become a mommy. 

It got me thinking about my own tone recently.  I absolutely and totally am with my kids.  I am amazed by them daily and am in awe of their abilities and the way they've turned both Randy and me into totally different people without ever really trying.  But when I talk about them to others, does my tone reflect that?  Do I sound like a mom who is over the moon about every runny nose, dirty diaper, whine-laced cry, and level 6 meltdown (I borrowed that last one from my friend!)?  Do I sound exhausted, underwhelmed, slightly disconnected to the miracle that each of my three kids truly is?  Am I sounding stressed out, over-commited, extended beyond my capabilities? 

There are days when I know my tone isn't the greatest.  In fact, there are times during almost every day when my tone could be adjusted.  My dishelved tone doesn't mean that I'm throwing in the towel (admitting defeat/failure), but more like I'm raising my white flag (surrendering).  The two idioms may have similar meaning, however I don't like to use the words 'defeat' and 'failure' when I'm referring to anything I do, most especially mothering.  When I use a tone that isn't the nicest, the friendliest, the most 'mommy-like', it's because I'm frustrated that at that moment I lack the ability to overcome the stressors that are adversly affecting me.  So rather than 'give up', I stop thinking rationally and start using my white flag of annoyance (better known as 'tone'). 

I've been working a lot on recognizing what causes my tone to change, and reducing the stress level (or my response to the stressful situations) not just with myself, but in the whole house.  I know that I am in awe of my kids, I adore them, and, (to borrow a phrase my friend said today), realize just how 'freakin' awesome' they are.  I've always felt that way.  But in the past few months, I've become a mommy who is in need of a few changes, a few adjustments.  So, I'm taking action to be a more 'complete' mommy, a mommy who makes it known just how much she loves her role all from listening to the tone of my voice.

Some of my most recent 'awe-inspiring', 'tone changing' moments with my kids...

keeping cool in the fountains at the park

she's like a little spider monkey

before her first gymnastics class

learning 'straddle'


learning how a gymnast stands

watching Brynn's gymnastics class from the observation deck

walking the beam by herself

ready to swing

swimming/looking like a frog

ladybug Brynn in the jacuzzi

swimming with baby sis

don't let the look of indifference fool you...she loved it

modeling how to play croquet for Brynn


Saturday, June 11, 2011

mommy vs. teacher (an internal struggle)

On Wednesday, I took Gavin to the pediatricians for his 5-year check up.  I knew going into his appointment with all three kids would prove a challenge, as I tried to give my primary focus to Gavin and what the doctor had to say.  After finding out that he's 4 feet tall, (about 5 inches taller than the average 5 year old--not surprising), while we were waiting for the pediatrician, when it happened. 

I got teary-eyed.

I was watching my 'little' boy as the nurse checked his blood pressure and walked him down the hall for his vision and hearing tests, feeling like it was just the other day that he was the little one in the infant carrier, rather than Raegan.  How can it be that our little guy is going into kindergarten in just a few months?!  When we returned home that afternoon, I opened the mail to find a letter from Gavin's school informing us of his teacher along with a supply list for the upcoming school year.  A sense of panic came over me as I realized that while we had toured the school on his birthday and received information about what an incoming kindergartener *should* know, I had yet to really follow through to see that he actually does *know* it.  I had purchased a few workbooks that review letters, sight words, numbers, and beginning math skills, yet they were sandwiched between several of my cake decorating books on the shelf.

Crap!  I essentially 'became' the quote that I had highlighted just days earlier in Torn: True Stories of Kids, Career & the Conflict of Modern Motherhood.  The quote said, "I most often fail by being too busy.  With work and three kids, I don't always manage to attain parenting 'best practices'."  I had purchased those books a while back--before having Raegan, even.  Why did I not start working with Gavin sooner?  I guess I figured that there'd be time to work over the summer, since I was busy with finishing up with work before maternity leave, making sure I was all set to have Raegan, working with my drama club on our production, making cakes...etc, etc...  The kindergarten prep was something we could put on the back burner until I had *more time* (ha!)  Where are my parenting 'best practices'?  Or, better yet, where are my teaching 'best practices'?!?!  I'm a teacher, yet I neglect to have my own son work on things that will help him once he enters school?  I really need to get with the program...


One of the benefits of Gavin attending a different school than where I teach is that I have a place where I can be 'Mrs. Teacher', and a place where I can be 'mommy'.  However, because 'Mrs. Teacher' is an ingrained characteristic of my persona, I am fearful that I'll have a challenge keeping that separate from the mommyhood side.  I don't want to be a 'helicopter mommy', a mommy who is afraid to loosen the apron strings a little more as the years pass by.  I know that Gavin will do well next year, that he's doing pretty well with all the things that are 'expected' by the beginning of kinder, and that I'm going to struggle to not push him too much with 'extra' work (especially this summer).  But I also know what I want him to be able to accomplish, and what he'll be expected to know and do as the school year goes along.

I don't want to push him, to come across as a 'teacher' in his eyes.  I am his mommy.  I'm responsible for making sure his character is well-rounded, his values etched into his brain and his heart, where they're second nature.  But, I'm also responsible for making sure he succeeds in school.  I'm responsible for making sure that I maintain a positive, working relationship with the school so that he'll be successful as he moves through his school years.  I know the 'teacher' role within that relationship.  I know how to share data with parents using terminology that makes the most sense. I know how to provide a list of strategies that will enhance the understanding of various skills and concepts.  I know how to present information to a classroom full of students who view me in the sole role of 'teacher', not the dual role of 'mommy/teacher'. 

But how do I peel away the 'teacher' layer to reveal my 'mommy core'?  I most definitely do not want to be one of 'those parents', but at the same time, I need to be the advocate for my child--especially since he isn't old enough to understand all that he needs to advocate for himself.  The balance will be delicate, and there's a definite learning curve involved.

Of course, for the time being, I'm enjoying the fact that he's viewing the work as 'big, important, I'm-almost-a-kindergarterner-so-no-you-can't-do-this-work-Brynn'.  He's enjoying doing a little bit daily, and in fact I had to tell him to stop because he would have finished half the book in one sitting. 

 We'll see how long this lasts...the school year doesn't begin for quite a while.

Don't worry...we're not 'all work and no play''s summer time!  We're enjoying the time we have together, even if we're not doing anything other than having an impromptu 'photo shoot'.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

30 years

I'm 30 years old.  (Well, tomorrow, June 6th, I'm 30--but when you're talking 30 years, what's one day?)  My dear, dear friend whom I've known since I was really young text me today (and posted on my facebook as well) that she isn't sure who's struggling more with this milestone that I've reached--me or her.  I'm the oldest out of our little 'group' (there are three siblings in her family and three in mine), and we spent a lot of time together growing up.  As we reach these little milestones...birthdays, graduations, weddings, buying houses, having our own kids...we are reminded of the rapid pace at which life is passing along.  While I wouldn't trade where I am in my life right now, there are times I wish I could go back and visit that time in my life for a while, just to enjoy the carefree attitude (and the summers filled with rummy, diet cokes, frozen snickers and reese's cups all poolside weren't too bad either!). 

Today, on my last day of my twenties, we took the kids to a park and just enjoyed the gorgeous Colorado weather.  As I watched my kids run around and play, I started thinking about what I'd write about this evening.  I figured what better way to ring in 30 with the beginning of my bucket list.  I know that 30 isn't the end of the world, it's not even the beginning of the end, but I'm thinking it's never too early to set some goals.  So, in honor of 30 years, here are 30 things I'd like to accomplish before I leave this earth...

1. Watch my kids graduate from high school, and more importantly, college (maybe even Penn State?)
2. Travel to Italy and Greece
3. Open a little bakery
4. Travel back to PSU with my family to show our kids where their mom and dad met and fell in love
5. Own a fabulous and ridiculously expensive pair of heels
6. Visit Chicago, Boston, San Fran, and Seattle
7. Take our family to Disney World
8. Write a book, and have it published
9. Get a motherhood tattoo
10. Become blond (or blond-ish), even if just for a short while
11. Climb a 14-er
12. Learn to ski
13. Become a grandmother (in at least 20-25 years!)
14. Learn to salsa dance with Randy
15. Go on a cruise
16. Ride in a hot air balloon
17. See the Grand Canyon--from the bottom
18. Have (and complete) a happiness project
19. Learn to say 'no' without feeling guilty
20. Become a yoga instructor
21. Go to Vegas
22. White water raft
23. Go to the Kentucky Derby (hat and mint julep included!)
24. Write a letter to each of my children, telling them what I want them to know about my life and the lessons I've learned
25. Walk a runway in a fashion show
26. Swim with dolphins
27. Attend a World Series game
28. See Lifehouse perform "You and Me" (our wedding song), live (with Randy, of course!)
29. Tour the White House
30. Set foot in all 50 states

Cheers to me...and turning 20-teen!