Signing Off and Leaning In

If a tree falls and no one is there to hear it, does it still make sound? If I don’t take a photo of my baby asleep on my chest, will it still bring me joy? If I don’t share a picture of my date night cocktail, will I still enjoy my husband’s company?

Yes. So much yes.

I’ve been practicing spending less time with my phone, and more time focusing on what really matters. Time spent with my husband is exponentially more fulfilling if some corner of my mind isn’t wondering how many ‘likes’ a photo of us together is getting. Making a conscious effort to be present and observant when snuggling with my kids preserves memories in a way a picture never could. And duh, trees always make noise when they fall, because science.

Facebook and Twitter are no longer on my phone, though I’ve decided to postpone deleting them entirely since they remain the most convenient way to communicate with some people. I used to treat those platforms as my most reliable news source, allowing 500+ “friends” to choose which information is most relevant to me. Most of that news was accompanied by the person’s justifiable rage, which I would consume and allow to compound my own frustration, anger, and devastation. I was finding it increasingly difficult to find reason to celebrate all the beauty and love in my own life, as though it was somehow disrespectful to victims of natural disasters, homophobia, gun violence, sexual assault, ethnic cleansing, etc.  I was in a constant state of mourning.

Now, I check the CNN app daily, but not before I’ve had coffee, meditated, laughed with my family, and exercised. I’m able to fulfill my family’s needs and those of my own with so much more gratitude and energy if my soul hasn’t first been drained by the knowledge of world events. I recognize that it’s only from a place of extreme privilege that I’m able to spend so much time willfully oblivious to tragedies that affect my fellow humans in tangible and irreparable ways, and I do not take that position lightly. But I believe that raising my kids with my whole heart will enable them to grow into the hopeful, virtuous, and loving citizens our world so desperately needs right now.

Posted in Uncategorized

The Picture I Didn’t Take Today

Impending molars, food sensitivities, or just general two-year-oldness are contributing to Orson’s new reluctance to sleep.  After an insufficient nap, I snuggled him close and sat on the couch.  Just a few moments later, I was surprised to feel his breathing slow and his limbs give way to gravity.  The bliss of having one of my babies sleep on my chest isn’t something I get to experience often these days.

After a minute or two of relishing my newfound role as a pillow, I started wondering where my phone was.  Like many of us, if I find myself with a rare moment of downtime, I am quick to alleviate it with the ever-enticing Scroll.  As my eyes located the shiny, thin rectangle across the room, I was inclined to panic.  My fingers longed for the methodic *pop* I have grown accustomed to with my PopSocket, and my thumb yearned to slide its way from bottom to top, bottom to top, bright and shiny photos revealed each time to keep my brain from its dreaded state of boredom.

A few deep breaths later, I realized that I had left it it “Do Not Disturb” mode after driving, and was shocked to feel relieved.  This moment, with a heavy two-year old head on my chest, was everything I needed.  I felt my heart pound against his ear, and his tap against my navel.  The snow fell heavy and quiet as I scanned the mountainside for elk and noted the relentless work of the magpies.  The bright white outside reflected itself in the wispy hair on Orson’s forearms, and I thought about what a miracle it is that all the tiny parts and pieces of each of my children have come together so beautifully.  I felt gratitude.

We spent the better part of the hour like this.  I breathed, I felt bored, and it was beautiful.

Posted in Uncategorized

Cleaning Closets

You know when you need to organize a cluttered and dysfunctional drawer or closet, you must first tear it apart, dump its contents all over the floor, make an even bigger mess than you started with, then begin from scratch?  That’s also my approach when we’re not finding our collective family groove.  If our routine feels flawed and forced, I throw it to the curb, take a road trip without giving any priority to preconceived ideas about naps or meals.  “Oooh” and “Ahhh” over the exciting things you find on your adventure, just as you would all those lost and forgotten mementos in the back of your closet.  Make a big ol’ mess out of things.  But don’t take it too seriously.  Turn it in to a game.  Laugh at the disaster you’ve created.  You know it won’t last forever.  Then come back to it the next day and put the pieces back together in a way that works even better than the old system.

Sometimes it takes something drastic for us to realize that things aren’t working.  In my experience, whenever my husband travels for work, I discover a lot of surprising things about myself and my kids, and all of the dynamics of how we work together as a team and a unit.  Like most families, we’re busy.  Bedtime is often an afterthought, sneaking up on us after we’ve had a full day of work and play, then rushed to beat the clock turning to seven.  We end up skipping songs, reading only one book instead of three, getting snappy and impatient with our kids, and generally ending our day on an altogether icky note.  Seeing it all in print makes it pretty clear why that isn’t ideal, but as most bad habits do, that routine developed gradually.  Time to dump our bedtime routine on the floor, toss what doesn’t work, and keep what does.

The most recent and surprising discovery about myself is that I am a reeeeaaaal asshole if the floor is too messy.  I’m all for kids having fun and childhood being messy and yada yada yada, but if the baby suddenly spits up on me, I don’t want to require the agility of a housefly to get across the room to a burp cloth without stepping on every Lego we own.  That sucks.  And it makes me super grumpy and likely to snap at my kids… who totally don’t deserve to be snapped at! 

Most importantly, I tell my kids I love them (dozens of times a day, but especially at bedtime), apologize and own up to it when I know I could be doing better as a mother/friend/human, and forgive myself for being flawed and learning as I go.  We’ll get through this.  We always do.

IMG_3233

Thanks to this book, we’ve been talking a lot about treating people the way we’d like to be treated.  We’ve concluded that none of us think it feels good to have people be impatient with us.  And, bonus!  It’s stunningly beautiful.  And another bonus!  It briefly touches on different religions, which I love because I really want my kids to be exposed to a variety of beliefs so that they can make empowered decisions based on what feels truest and best to them as they get older.

Posted in Uncategorized

First haircuts.

For months now, every bath has been followed by a monumental battle.  No matter how generously I apply conditioner, Sloane’s head is encased in a tangled mass.  I pull the comb through her locks, hesitant and cautious, always prepared for her to yank her head away and scream out in exaggerated pain.

After weeks of discussing the possibility of a haircut, we finally reached the point that she begged for one every time I brushed her hair.  Luckily, one of my oldest friends is an amazing hair stylist.  She was sweet enough to offer to come to our home so that Sloane could feel as comfortable as possible during this new experience.

Today was the big day!

She did so great!  And if you ask me, she looks pretty dang cute.

Posted in Family, Videos

Spotlight: Sloane

My daughter is kind of a tough nut to crack right now.  Around our home, she is vivacious, imaginative, chatty, and hilarious.  But she holds most of that back when we’re around other people, despite their best efforts to get to know her.  When I found this series of photos she took on my phone, I was so excited to share this silly side of her that only a few people get to see.

Posted in Family, Videos

32.

I celebrated my 32nd birthday over the weekend.  Strangely, this is the first birthday has sounded not quite old, but more adult-like to me.  I welcomed thirty with open arms, and 31 was no big deal.  Something about 32, though… It appears this “grown up” business is around for good.

Inspired by one of my favorite bloggers, dig this chick (who also happens to be my employer), I decided to compile a list of thirty two of my favorite things right now.

 

wonderful trouble

A dream come true:  like a complete dork, I convinced her to finally wear coordinating dresses with me.

1.  Green tea with honey.  (So much honey.)

2.  How Sloane wraps her arms tightly around my neck every night, and makes me guess the magic word for her to let me go.  I always take several minutes to guess the right word, even though it’s always “abracadabra”.

3.  The way Roman smiles, bounces, and breathes excitedly if he’s excited about something you say to him.

4.  Five p.m. every day week day, when my husband gets home and the energy in our house changes from Holy-Crap-We’re-All-Driving-Each-Other-Crazy to Holy-Crap-I-Am-So-Grateful-For-All-Of-These-People.

5.  The way Mia (our corgi) smells when she’s sleepy.

6.  Putting milkmaid braids in my hair.

7.  Socks from Costco.

8.  For the first time in my life, I can cook over-easy eggs.

9.  Watching old episodes of 30 Rock in bed with Colin before we go to sleep every night.

10.  Wearing lipstick.

11.  Beyonce.

12.  My dreamy new job.

13.  Dreaming about home improvements.

14.  Carving out time, for the first time in a long time, for socialization without my kids.

 

Art on Tap:  An art class held at various local venues.  I attended a session at a winery with four of my favorite women on my birthday and had such a great time!

15.  Roman’s genuine love for snuggling up and relaxing with those he loves.

16.  Quinoa.  In any shape or form.

17.  How perfectly Roman fits on my hip.

18.  My new wall-mounted jewelry box that Colin gave me for my birthday.

19.  Reading to my kids.

20.  Remembering to use my DSLR a bit more often than I have in the past.

21.  Popcorn with coconut oil and nutritional yeast.

22.  Pinot Noir.

23.  Clean sheets.

24.  Having the longest hair of my life.

25.  Retiring nursing bras (which simultaneously breaks my heart).

26.  Dreaming about who my kids will be when they’re big.

27.  Getting to spend one-on-one time with each of my kids once in awhile.

28.  The evenings when my husband and I say we’re going to watch a movie, but then we get to talking about life and kids and goals and dreams and before we know it, it’s past our bedtime.

29.  Water.  I drink a gallon a day.  I seriously can’t get enough of the stuff.

30.  Our new refrigerator.  I sure hope that whoever came up with the idea to put the freezer on the bottom got a hefty raise.

31.  How I Met Your Mother.  We haven’t even watched the finale yet because I’m just not ready to say goodbye.

32.  Listening to Sloane endlessly chatter on and on about things she’s excited about.

Posted in Misc

Wonderful Now

Right now I am a busy mama of two, striving for the balance that I’ve neglected for the last 3+ years.  I often feel that I’ve lost touch with myself, my intellect and social skills being the biggest victims.  I have finally recognized that I can be a better person for them if I put myself first every once in awhile.  Right now is challenging.

 

Kids in Window

 

Right now is my daughter sneaking away from playing with her cousins (whom she adores) at family gatherings to draw a picture just for me.  My son giving sloppy, open-mouthed kisses on my nose before bed time.  My husband offering to do all the grocery shopping with both kids in tow so that I can have some time to myself.  Right now is wonderful.

 

Rain Boots

 

Right now is change and growth, relying on little more than love and our instincts to guide us in the right direction.  Right now is extraordinary.

 

 

 

Posted in Family