Wednesday, January 29, 2014

When Mom Loses It

Met my new nephew Parker for this first time.  He sat so peacefully in the arms of his mama, my sister-in-law Heather.

Love, love the cheeks!

Have to explain this photo!  Salmon was served for dinner the other night.  Caleb made his displeasure known.  Chris finally offered him a deal: he didn't have to eat his salmon if he ran out to get the mail (mailbox is not very far) in the outfit he wore to dinner.  (Yes folk, he was shirtless, clad in shorts for freezing temps.)  Caleb took Door #2 and ran outside to get the mail in his barely-there attire.  Although it was juvenile and a stunt worthy of a fraternity house, it was very funny for the whole family (even Caleb)!  We all stood by the door and cheered him on.  Connor decided to capture the moment with this (blurry) cell phone shot.

I loathe those breakfast cereal commercials.  The ones where a crew of perfectly coiffed, finely dressed children sit in a bright kitchen.  A nutritious breakfast spread garnishes the dining room table.  Nicely assembled backpacks sit in the ready by the door.  The parents, clad in sporty attire, seem chirpy and relaxed.  They appear to roll through the morning without a hitch, easy peasy.

My mornings look little like those commercials.  

Many mornings, I'm lighting a fire under my children's backsides to move out the door...dressed, cleaned, fed, and prepared.  And my one and only goal in the morning is to look less like the before picture on a makeover magazine spread.

It really takes just one child to spiral a morning from perfect to poor.  This morning it was my five year old's turn.    He's usually a doll, a pleaser by nature.  But this morning, he rolled off the wrong side of his Batman bed.  Everything was wrong, nothing was right, and he wasn't afraid to let me know.

It started with a squabble over appropriate school attire for frigid weather.  He leaned towards a beachy short-sleeve shirt; I pushed for a long-sleeve, insulated one.  We compromised; he wore both.  Although he looked a bit like the Michelin man, he was happy (and warm).

Then came hair drama.  I combed and styled his hair in the most adorable do.  He took one look at his reflection and fell into hysterics.  What had I done to his hair?, he wailed. What on Earth was wrong with his just-rolled-out-of-bed, don't-own-a-comb look?, he sobbed (not exact words, but identical meaning!).  He pulled on a hat and refused to take it off.  I was starting to lose steam and agreed to the hat (let the preschool teacher tackle that one!).

I ushered the boys into the minivan and my five year old howled.  Another brother was in his seat.  HIS SEAT.  He immediately started his one boy "stand-in" crusade.  He refused to sit down anywhere else but HIS SEAT.

I lost it.  I shrieked, "Find a seat, now!"  (Raised voice.  Mean mom look.  Exclamation point.  Exclamation point.)  The car fell into a hush.  Five year old burst into tears.  I felt like crying too.

That's when Cooper, my fiery, spirited son, jumped into action.  He hopped out of his seat and offered his little brother his spot.  As sweet as his gesture was, it perhaps made me feel all the worse.  When Cooper is the level-headed, voice of reason in the vehicle, warning bells should be ringing.

Five year old entered his preschool classroom just fine, clad in his hat and two shirts.  I walked back to the car a bit dejected pondering how our morning derailed so greatly.

Raising my voice worked, but surely there was a better way to encourage morning harmony and efficiency.  I thought about all the times I preached to my children the merits of self-control and kind words (regardless of how anyone else acts) and here I was doing the complete and utter opposite.

Although my son needed direction and discipline, I didn't do it the right way.  I've been teaching my kids that they only have control over their own actions and when wrong, make it right.  Why haven't I mastered those concepts?

Tonight I will apologize for my harsh tone and fiery words.  Then, like I encourage my boys, I will try not to do it again.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Final Birthday of our Celebratory Season

Collin celebrated his fifth birthday at a local Mexican restaurant.  He loved when a crowd of waiters belted out a birthday serenade.  Of course, the fact they brought him a humongous dessert helped too!

We followed up the first dessert with a second one.

On Friday, I ate lunch with a friend at the Nancy Noel art studio.  A lot of her paintings have age and mortality themes (topics I can relate to this week!)

Three couple friends took me out for my birthday.

The men folk.

To think, we married in our 20s and now we've landed in the 40s!

As silly as the kids.

The Wood family's birthday season has come to a close.  We finally devoured the last birthday cake, opened the remaining presents, and feted the final family member.  It's been fun, but our waist lines/egos/schedules can't handle anymore.  And so we're back to living a life without the (seemingly) daily celebrations.  It's been fun, but it's time. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Ode To My Treadmill

As a birthday treat, Connor and Collin had a "slumber party" last night.  They even slept in the same twin bed.

Party animal!

My sweet little boy on his 5th birthday!

You certainly have your enemies.  Many can't say your name without adding a string of profanities.  Some even refer to you as the "dreadmill."  Others would rather forgo working out rather than step on your treads.

But for those of us living in what now resembles Siberia, we've warmed (literally) to you.

As one (now) intimately familiar with you, I certainly know your benefits and limitations.

You listen, but fail to provide witty banter, a quick comeback, or light chatter.

You offer a constant terrain, but never change the scenery.

You supply a dry surface without a lick of ice, but give off a "hamster on a wheel" sensation.

You sit in the warm confines of my basement free of frigid winds, freezing temps, and blowing snow, but fail to illuminate a run with a vibrant sunset, blue sky, or glowing moon.

You regulate my pace, but don't allow me to enjoy the spontaneity of a run at whatever clip I land.

You're patient during your months of inactivity while I stride on the warm pavement, but then you do nothing to make the reentry into our relationship easy.

You help me run during months when I have no other choice, and for that I call you a friend.   

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

What does 40 look like?

Birthday picture with my boys. 

What life really looks like most of the time!

Chef Caleb helps me prepare Collin's ice cream birthday cake.

Connor peeked over my shoulder.  He gazed at the birthday card in my hands, reading the words along with me.  He gasped and exclaimed, "You're 40!"

His reaction made me giggle.  

"Yes," I confirmed.  "Are you surprised?"

He shrugged, toying with the appropriate response and then deciding silence was his best option.  (Smart boy!)  But I could read his mind.  He was thinking, "My mom is elderly; inches away from the grave."  I can't blame him.  When I was nine years old, I would have reacted the exact same way.

Even though my mind still places me at 20, I'm no longer a young adult, a spring chicken, a spry youth.  I can't (seriously) shop at Forever 21.  I won't be mistaken as a coed.  But I'm yet to be labeled as a fossil, geriatric, or senior citizen.  I don't own a walker, dentures, or Depends.  I don't get the senior discount at the movie theater.  I suppose the correct term is "middle aged."  But that doesn't fit either.  It conjures up images of those shuffling along in bathrobes and black socks, starting to let themselves go.

I'm trying to figure out what 40 looks like.  Entertainment magazines show 40-something celebrities frolicking on the beach in string bikinis with not an inch of cellulite.  Is that 40?  Perhaps that's what 40 looks like for the jet-set, but what about us ordinary folk?

On my 40th birthday, I ran seven miles and then shoveled our snowy driveway.  I suppose I did it to prove a point.  To make a statement.  I was saying, "Take that 40, a new decade won't steal my vigor and pep."  But a little part of me knows age will eventually win.

What 40 looks like for me is gratitude.  With age and experience, I've learned to appreciate the years I've had and the people that have made that time special.  I reflect back on my four decades and I feel blessed to have years with my husband, boys, parents, in-laws, extended family, and dear friends.  And when I think about getting older, I focus on years to come with the people I love.  And when I look at it that way, I can't wait to age.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

When Hugs Are Still Cool

Received this cool puzzle from a friend!  Proceeds go to One-Fund Boston.  

Ran 14 miles on the treadmill yesterday for #megsmiles.

Collin sat in the middle of an empty classroom.  Big tears streamed down his cheeks.  Two Sunday School teachers huddled around him.  One rubbed his back and whispered soothing words.

It was mommy guilt at its finest. 

I rushed into the room and spewed out apologizes and excuses for why I was the very last parent to pick up a child in the Sunday School class.  Collin raced into my arms and buried his head in my neck.  It was pitiful and precious at the same time.  And I....loved it.

I loved that feeling of being needed.  I loved the feeling that he wanted his mother.  I loved that he could show affection to a parent without any inhibitions.

As one with older children, I know this interchange is fleeting.  In a matter of years (months even), he'll gravitate towards friends.  He won't clutch his mother's neck in public and snuggle; I'll be lucky to snag a high five.  

And so today, I pulled him into a hug and held him until we landed in the parking lot.  And even then, it was hard to let go.  

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Tween Moms Vs. Baby Moms

It's basketball season again.  As a spectator, it's my favorite sport.  Love to sit on chairs in a heated gym with a roof over our heads.  (So much better than the sidelines of a soggy, chilly soccer field!)

Cooper's league makes me smile.   They average about 50 basket attempts to one completed shot.

The boys cozy up with pal Ozzy.  Competitors on the court, friends in the neighborhood.

With the abundance of winter family birthdays, we celebrated as a pack.  Birthdays celebrated: everyone in my family (minus Cooper) plus Great Grandma.

Always the party animal!

Great Grandma and her husband Gus.

My cousin's wife sat amid the well-wrapped packages.  She glowed as she stroked her swollen belly.  A baby nestled underneath, weeks away from making an appearance.  A team of admiring friends and relatives positioned themselves around the room watching this mommy-to-be slice through wrapping paper and pull out newborn essentials.

I snagged a seat in the back and scanned the room.  The group was a mixture of gray-haired grandmas and young moms clutching babies.  My seat was near the kid-section.  A crowd of new moms sat on the floor surrounded with blankets, board books, rattles, and squirmy toddlers.  The moms divided their time between caring for their little ones and focusing on the mom-to-be.

I stared at those moms and thought how far removed I am from that time period.  I once was one of those moms clutching a fussy baby and/or wiggly toddler.  I sat amid friends and jabbered on about potty training techniques and breastfeeding.  But now my conversations have turned to texting rules and sports teams.  

I thought about the difference between a baby mom and a tween mom.

A baby mom lacks sleep.  Fussy babies cut into a full night's sleep.

A tween mom craves sleep.  Busy schedules and overnighters slice into sleep.

A baby mom worries about her babies diet.  She pumps a baby with the most nutritious foods possible.

A tween mom worries about a child's diet.  She warns about the dangers of sodas and sweets.

A baby mom worries that her child will hit all the right milestones.  Will the baby roll over, clap, and sit up on target?

A tween mom worries about a child's milestones.  Will the child hit math and reading benchmarks on target? 

A baby mom worries about dangers.  Will a child choke on peas, suffocate on a crib mattress, or fall down a flight of stairs?

A tween mom worries about dangers.  Will a child hang out with the wrong crowd, meet a dangerous character on the Internet, or be offered an illegal substance?

A baby mom loves her child.  She snuggles her baby and admires a pudgy belly, button nose, and pink cheeks.

A tween mom loves her child.  She gazing at a child who is becoming his or her own person.  She admires many aspects of the emerging personality and budding independence.  

I realized how much I truly had in common with the moms of babies.  Our challenges are different, but our struggles are the same.    

Thursday, January 9, 2014

What Happens When You Hit Snow Day #5!

Who knew a Christmas tree box could keep little boys so entertained?

I spy a picnic table buried under the snow!

The view from my kitchen window: winter wonderland or nightmare?

I gazed out my kitchen window and spied a flurry of white flakes.  They landed on our already snow-drenched landscape.  They didn't want to leave.  More snow = no school, again!  And for those counting (and I am), that makes FIVE snow days in a row.  Yes, FIVE!

The first snow day went great.  We baked chocolate chip cookies, assembled puzzles, and read books.  I channeled my inner Pioneer Woman and whipped up a dinner spread that would make Paula Deen gush.  I wore makeup and did my hair.

The second snow day went well.  We cleaned out the basement, played board games, and colored pictures.  I made spaghetti with pasta sauce from the jar.  I vaguely remember sliding on deodorant.

The third snow day went ok.  We played with the Christmas tree box, called neighbors (desperate to speak with other human beings), and prayed for strength and patience (ok, maybe that was just me).  I made a pork dish and didn't bother with sides.  I failed to remember the last time I showered.

The fourth snow day went....  We lounged on the couch and flipped on the TV.  We sustained tans from the extended exposure to the glow of the screen.  For dinner, I whipped up macaroni and cheese from the box.  I admitted to wearing the same pair of drawstring yoga pants for five days in a row.

And then I got the call; school is cancelled for tomorrow too.  I shook my fist at the phone.  I whined just a little.  I realized my temper tantrum would do no good.  I came to peace with the fact that my children may never return to school until spring.  I tossed my yoga pants in the wash to get them ready for tomorrow.   


Sunday, January 5, 2014

Winter's Fury

Winter's full fury whopped our state.  

The beauty of winter is diminished by the misery it inflicts!

After the first round of snowfall, Connor carved out a snow bed!


Snow creates endless play possibilities.  

On the very last day of Christmas break, we got walloped by a massive snow storm.  As predicted, the snow rained down at a steady, heavy pace throughout the day.  The boys spent most of the day frolicking among the flakes, creating snow everything (men, volcanoes, beds).

As a surprise to no one, we received an automated phone call announcing tomorrow's school closure.  I cursed mother nature.  Didn't she understand that we were at the END of our winter break (the finish line).  And now we have at least One. More. Day.  It's like hitting the 26 mile mark at a marathon.  That's the point where I feel like it should be over but know there's still that .2 left the finish line.  There's where we are.

With temperatures predicted to nosedive into the negative teens, tomorrow may just be snow day #1.  This might start feeling like an ultra marathon!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Mommy Sick Days

Cooper's Get Well Card.  Love the part where he says, "I'll win the Boston Marathon!"

Caleb's Get Well Card.  I appreciate that he considered how the illness impacts my "break."

Connor's Get Well Card.  He lists my favorites!

I'd describe the last few days as miserable.  I've been sick.  Er visit/stuck in bed/medicine cabinet full/grandparents come to watch the kids sick.  Today, I'm finally starting to move in the right direction.

Trying to find the positives from the last couple of days:

1)  I haven't had one single Diet Coke in three days (a personal record).  I just might kick a nasty, lifelong habit.  (No promises!)

2)  I haven't had one single sweet in three days (another personal record).

3)  I've lost all holiday pounds:)

4)  I've appreciated my husband helping with all the medical care and translating other doctor's words.

5)  I'm thankful for my parents coming to watch the kids and tend to household chores.  They are saints! 

6)  I've really felt loved and cared for by all the kind texts and calls from friends.  Thanks!!

Pray for a complete recovery next week!