Monday, January 30, 2012

The Hard Questions

Abby is in the stage where she questions EVERYTHING.  I can not count how many times she says 'Why?' or 'Why Not?' in a day.

But she's also starting to ask questions about other stuff too, especially family.  She's fascinated by the fact that I'm her 'mom' but I'm also someone's 'sister'.  At first, it just confused her but she's starting to piece it together.  It's the cutest thing to see her eyes light up when she gets it!

I can literally see the gears turning in her brain as she works through all of this complicated stuff.  Here's where the conversation gets difficult though.

Abby:  "Who's your Dada?"
Me:  "Your Nonno is my daddy."
Abby:  "Who's your Mama?"
Me:  "My Mama is your Babushka."

That's where the conversation stops, usually.  I can see the look on her face.  The look of not quite getting it and the look of her wanting to ask another question but not sure what that question should even be.

I know it's on her mind because one day after we went out to eat, she asked me if I go out to eat with my Mama too.  My answer was simply, I used to... all the time.

We talk about my Mom here and there with Abby.  She knows my Mom made (and I use that term very loosely) her Blanky.  There's a picture in her room of my Mom holding her.  But, I have to admit, I sometimes keep the conversation short because I know what that next question is and I'm afraid.

I'm afraid to chip away at her naive innocence.  I don't want her to know that there is an end because to her there are only beginnings.  How could a child understand what I, after 3 years, can not type without tears in my eyes.

I know the question is there, on the tip of her tongue.  I know the day will come and I will handle it as well as I can.  I know that the right words for a 2 (almost 3) year old to understand will come to me.

But, as I sit here with Lilly as she lays here content with droopy eyes and milk dribbling out of the corner of her mouth, I wonder what I will tell her.  There will be no pictures, no Blanky, no stories of how much my Mom loved her.  The realization that I have officially stepped into a part of my life that my Mom would never be apart of, is painful.

It brings back memories of when my Mom was her sickest, and she looked at me and cried, "I'm going to miss so much!"  My response to her that day, as I tried to be strong and hold it together, was to tell her that she was going to have the best seat in the house!  I believe that still, and I feel her presence, but it would be nice to hug her or hear her voice.

I know the words will come the day that Lilly asks the question too.  I just really wish the question didn't have to be asked.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Mama's on a Diet!

I did something kind of crazy.  Crazy because I have a million unfinished projects already but also because it leaves me feeling extremely exposed.

I went ahead and started a weight loss blog complete with measurements and all!  Ugh, it was hard to be honest and actually type it out but now it's there and hopefully those numbers will keep getting smaller and smaller.

I decided to start a separate blog because I want to keep my posts here centered more on family and life, although I'm sure the two will overlap at times.  I'm hoping that blogging about my struggles will keep me committed and motivated on my journey to find a healthier, happier me.

I hope all of you check it out and join my on my journey!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Focus Friday

"Whatever we focus on is bound to expand. Where we see the negative, we call forth more negative. And where we see the positive, we call forth more positive. Having loved and lost, I now love more passionately. Having won and lost, I now win more soberly. Having tasted the bitter, I now savor the sweet."
 Marianne Williamson 

This has been a tough week of tantrums and meltdowns.  I always try to remind myself that Abby will outgrow this stage and I'll be missing the good stuff.  So, let's focus on the funny/cute toddlerisms!

Abby's new way to say football is hootball.  I don't know why since she used to say it perfect.  She is so excited for the Superbowl and I fear that my husband has successfully created a lifelong Patriots fan.  Here she is all geared up for the game last week:
This game is serious!

On our way to the grocery store the other day, she insisted on making her own list.  With pen and paper in hand she started:
     Step 1:  Hot Chocolate (which she's never had)
     Step 2:  Yogurt (one of her faves)
     Step 3:  The sticky things that go on mommy's underwear

Step 3 had me laughing, it also made me realize that she spends entirely too much time in the bathroom with me.

Abby has been reading to me and Lilly.  Her memory is incredible!  She hears a story once and she remembers key phrases from each page.  It's so cute and she is so proud of herself!

She has been 'playing' with her imaginary friends.  Well, her one imaginary friend is her best friend who she doesn't get to see nearly enough but I love that her imagination is so alive!

Everything she does was 'this week'.  For example, 'I go to the museum and saw shark this week.'  It was actually 2 months ago, but to her it was yesterday.  Oh, to have no sense of time!

Focusing on these cute little things makes staying home with her and Lilly worth it.  I know that these are the things that won't last forever.  She used to say 'hi morning' whenever she woke up and call our dog, JR, 'caca'.  Those little quirks are already gone and I'm not even sure she remembers that there was a time that she didn't quite get it right.

As she gets older and I look back on these days, the tantrums will be a distant memory but I'll always remember the things that make me laugh.

That's the good stuff!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Parenting is Ever Changing

I have come to the conclusion that kids, infants in particular, understand way more than we give them credit for.  I remember when Abby was real little it seemed like every time I bragged about this great schedule she was on, she would do something different the following day.  I learned to stop discussing her sleeping or eating habits.... EVER!

Lilly just did a similar trick last night.  Dan and I were just saying how great it was that she sleeps through the night only getting up once or maybe twice for a quick 2 oz bottle and falling right back to sleep.  Last night,  she woke up three times and wanted 4 oz one of those times.  Yup, never talking about her schedule again either!

Now Abby has really out did herself because she actually changed up a habit I recently wrote about.  Can she really read?  Do kids have some sort of ESP?  It's like they know when we get used to something and say to themselves, "Oh, I'll show them.  How about this for a change of pace?"

Remember last week when I wrote about tv viewing?  Remember how I said that having the tv on does not stop her from playing and only catches her interest for a few minutes at a time?  Well, in an effort to remain honest with all of you, I have to admit that is not the case anymore.

It started the other day.  She wanted to watch Toy Story, her favorite movie, and I agreed.  It was over right in time for bed time.  Now, she didn't just sit glued to the tv and half the time she wasn't even in the same room as the tv.  When it was over, I shut the tv off and told her to get her bed ready and pick out a story.

Well, the tears that followed were INCREDIBLE!  She was crying so hard that she was practically hyperventilating.  I read somewhere that you should always try to be sympathetic to your kid's tears, so I tried.  I told her that I understood she felt sad because she loves that movie but that we could always watch it another day.  I hugged her and told her I loved her but still tried to get her ready for bed.

After 15 minutes, my patience was thin.  All I could think was this sympathizing stuff is total garbage.  I get that she's sad but it's tv for crying out loud!  All I wanted was for her to go to bed!  It didn't help that Lilly was doing her normal 'I'm not in mommy's arms so I'm going to scream/cry for as long as it takes for mommy to come and get me.'

So, after 15 minutes, I told her that if she did not stop crying and pick out her story then there would be no story tonight.  Finally, she stopped, had a story read to her, and I was exhausted.

It didn't stop there.  The past couple of days have been filled with tv requests and theatrics when the request is denied.  I feel like I totally missed the mark here because obviously what I thought was just background noise was more to her.

So, our new rule (started yesterday), is to have very limited tv in our house.  We are getting back to listening to music for background noise and movie nights will be a special exception to the rule.  I'm not going to lie, the tv will go on everyday but only for carefully selected shows and then off it goes when it's over.  I refuse to have a 2 year old get that emotional over something so silly.

And yes, I did tell her that I thought that what she crying over was actually silly but that was only after my patience for the situation was nonexistent.

So, as much as I see the learning value in some shows and as easy as it is to keep it on, I have to change my mind on how much tv is a good thing.  Parenting is about being flexible and making changes when necessary and this change has to be made.

Proves once again that once I think I know what works, I realize that I have no idea!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Too Many Works in Progress

I envy those DIY blogs that always seem to have new things to post.  Where do they find the time for it all?  The space to keep there supplies?  The concentration to complete a project?  Not only do I get bored with a project that doesn't turn out right on the first try but I will get bored before I even start because I've had to much time to think about it.

I've had a blank canvas since November that was supposed to become something close to this:

Source: via Kasey on Pinterest

And I have about 15 plain glass ornaments.

The finished products were supposed to look like these and were supposed to be Christmas presents.  I started ONE!

Source: via Kasey on Pinterest

Poor Lilly, she has the least going on in her room.  The wall behind her bed was supposed to have a tree similar to this on it.

Source: via Kasey on Pinterest

And how about this scarf that I started a whole year ago?  I missed a stitch somewhere and ended up taking half of it out and now it just sits there, waiting to be finished!

I never even made Abby a baby book and have been 'working' on a photo album of her first 2 years for months (she'll be 3 in April).  I know I need to get moving because soon I'll forget what I even want to put in there!

All these half started projects (or supplies for projects that I didn't start yet) wind up in my room which now looks more like a dumping ground than a master bedroom.  It's such an easy spot to store things because it's so big and so far from being 'done'.  Our walls are practically bare because we're waiting to decorate until we paint (of course I already have the stencil I want to use on one of the walls) and the furniture we own barely fills the room so there's lots of room to pile things.  I guess you can say that the entire room is a work in progress!

This is it though, I'm doing my own intervention.  No more purchasing supplies until SOMETHING is completely.  I'm promising myself that one thing will be checked off the list by the end of February.  Anything but the ornaments because that ship has pretty much sailed until next year.  Or the scarf because I don't think I have the patience for that.  But I promise to finish SOMETHING!  I vow to not go into Michaels until I actually accomplish something. Well, unless it's for something to do with Abby because that's different, right?

Anyone else have the hardest time completing a project?  I need to know I'm not alone!

Monday, January 23, 2012

An Open Letter to the New England Patriots

Dear New England Patriots:

I really wish that you didn't make it into the Super Bowl this year.  I mean, it's good for you but not so much for me.  I will now spend the next two weeks with an antsy husband who will be reviewing plays and stats as if his life depended on it.  I will spend the entire day of game praying for a win because he will act like a HUGE baby if you don't.  Seriously, you would think that he had big money on the game or he was actually part of the team.  Actually, I think there might be times that the lines between fantasy and reality are blurred and he might actually think he's one of you:

At Patriots Place in August 2010 after we watched you practice.  Highlight of my life!  

I will never forget when you lost to the Giants during your undefeated year.  I remember nothing about the game but I do remember the look on my husband's face.  His world collapsed.  I'm pretty sure he loves you more than he loves me (as for Tom Brady, I KNOW he loves you more).  I have come to terms with that and accept it.  I dealt with the loss by laughing as he dropped to his knees in disbelief.  I know it wasn't the most sympathetic response, but sometimes it feels good to see the 'other woman' fail miserably.

The loss was magnified by the fact that I am from East Rutherford, NJ:  the home of the Giants.  Can you imagine what he has to listen to at family get togethers?  To top it all off, we drive right passed Giant Stadium (or whatever they call it now).  Trust me, you don't even want to be in the car at the end of our 4 hour road trip!  Oh, the hostility!

Please, for me and the sake of my girls, win on February 5th.  I do not want my kids to see their Dad cry because it will make them cry and we have enough crying around here.

And you guys WON!  Imagine what a loss looks like around here!


Wife of a Pats Fan Who is Totally Dreading a Repeat

Friday, January 20, 2012

Focus Friday: Doing the Best I Can

As a mom, I pride myself on being able to juggle everything:  housework, play time, groceries/menu planning, discipline, snuggle time, etc etc etc!  There are days that things aren't balanced and those are the days that I try to reassess and learn so that I am better prepared.  As things change, our schedule changes too.  What worked 2 weeks ago may not work now... I try to be flexible.

I devote my life to being a mom.  Days without my girls are few and far between and thats ok.  Sure, there are days that I want to run away or go back to work but I am grateful to be the one who comforts them. laughs with them, and teaches them.

I take my job seriously.  So, when someone makes a comment about how one of my girls may not be getting enough attention, it stings.  It feels like an attack on me, on who I am.  I know the comment wasn't said to hurt me, but it did.

Are there times that Lilly needs more attention?  Yes.  Are there times that I am forced to let Lilly cry so that I can focus on Abby?  Yes.  This is life.  Everyone who has ever had a a sibling has gone through the same emotions.  Does the child who WANTS attention feel pushed aside a little bit when the other child NEEDS attention?  Sure.  Do I sympathize?  As the oldest of 5, of course I do.  It's a lesson thats impossible to avoid:  Sometimes we don't get everything we want, but hopefully we get everything that we need.

I'm trying not to let the comment someone made bother me because the truth is that I am doing the best I can.  I KNOW this.  But, it's nagging at me because it hit right on the 'mommy guilt' button.  We all have one, whether we stay home with our kids or go to work.  We have the greatest responsibility anyone could ever have:  raising a child into a well adjusted adult.  It's a responsibility that none of us have a handbook for.  There is no fool proof method.  No right or wrong.  Just, intuition and hope.  Even if one day is bad, we hopefully have hundreds more to make up for it.

I am trying to focus on what I know.  Knowing that every choice I make is made with them in mind.  I try to take advantage of each moment with them... I do the BEST I possibly can.

So, my focus today is on my crazy toddler.  In a quiet moment, when Lilly was content and sleeping, we got a little silly and Abby LOVED every moment!

Cutest kitty cat ever!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

I Must Confess...

I just ate ALMOST an entire box of these:

I let Abby eat THREE at snack time.  I, trying to set a good example, ate three with her and shoveled the rest in while hiding in the kitchen.

Once I realized what I had done, I tried to make up for it by having hummus and pita for dinner with some fruit on the side.

Except that left me hungry so I grabbed more cookies.

Damn you Mother Nature for making me a woman with ZERO will power!  And damn you Entenmann's for making bite size cookies!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Focus Friday

"Whatever we focus on is bound to expand. Where we see the negative, we call forth more negative. And where we see the positive, we call forth more positive. Having loved and lost, I now love more passionately. Having won and lost, I now win more soberly. Having tasted the bitter, I now savor the sweet."
 Marianne Williamson 

The weather this week has been absolutely amazing!  I know there are a lot of you out there hoping for some snow (including Abby) but I am LOVING these mild temperatures.  I've been a bit down about my weight, it's stayed the same for the most part but that's my own fault.  I decided that this week I NEEDED start exercising.  Not an easy task with a toddler and infant so we got out walking twice this week.

First, we headed over to Jefferson Patterson Park which has a really cool Indian Village.  I love it here because I can let Abby run freely and much of the path is paved so it's easy to walk with the stroller.  And yes, those are bones she's playing with... strange, right?

We even took a little detour closer to the water, an area we haven't been to yet.

Then I had the bright idea to go on a real adventure and take the girls to the zoo.  We're about an hour away from DC and I love when we get the chance to take advantage of all the free stuff it has to offer.  We usually take the Metro in but I decided against such a long ride with 'Screaming Lilly' so we drove (you're very welcome fellow Metro riders!).  I guess January doesn't bring many people to the zoo which made it our nicest visit yet!  Even the animals were happy to see us!

 It was actually this little guys birthday!

 The day at the zoo took a lot out of Abby and my girl who hasn't ridden in a stroller in almost a year insisted on being driven back to the car.  We already went out and bought a Sit and Stand Stroller in case this happens again!
There was one morning that kind of got the best of me and I woke up kinda grumpy (being woken up 2-3 times a night will do that to a person!).  But then I looked outside and saw this:

What a pretty start to a day (that began way too early)!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Relaxed or Strict About TV?

When Abby was first born, I was totally against allowing her to watch tv.  It was easy to say that I would NEVER allow her to watch it when she slept 14 hours a day.  That changed once she became mobile and I realized that tv allowed me to shower in peace.  Since then, I've become very relaxed about the tv because it doesn't seem to stop her from playing for more than a few minutes at a time.  I'll be honest, now it's on almost all day in the background and I do feel that she learns from the shows she's allowed to watch.

I'm still strict about what shows she watches but I don't typically sit and watch them with her.  I trust that networks like Sprout or Nick JR will only play shows that have educational value appropriate for toddlers.  Well, last night I realized that what I think is appropriate and what they think is appropriate are two different things.  I am now second guessing my whole relaxed attitude on tv.

I was sitting there holding Lilly (who seems to want to be held at all times) while Abby was watching a show that we don't typically watch but it was on one of my 'go to' networks and I was amazed at how badly one of the characters was behaving.  The character didn't get his way so he was stomping his feet, pouting, throwing things and eventually hit one of the other characters.  Granted, at the end the life lesson was to use our words and never hit but I feel that kids will emulate behavior they see before they apply life lessons that they hear.

I made sure to talk to her while we were watching the show and pointing out that the behavior was bad and that's not how we act but when it was time to clean up for bed later that night, she actually pouted her lip and said I'm mad just like she saw the character on tv do!  Now, maybe I made too big a deal of it or maybe she heard my husband and I talking about it but maybe that's what she learned from the show.  I'm not sure why she behaved that way but I do know that she had never used those exact words or actions before.  Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't say that she's happy to clean up and go to bed but my request is always met with negotiations ("2 more minutes, Mama?  No, 1 more minutes?)

I know there are some people who are relaxed like me and others who are completely opposite.  I guess now I'm going to fall somewhere in the middle and not trust the network but actually watch these shows with Abby to make sure they are appropriate.  It's hard enough to correct typical toddler behavior so I don't need characters on tv to reinforce it.

Where do you all fall on the tv debate?  Do you find that some shows geared towards kids reinforce behavior that you are trying to correct?

Friday, January 6, 2012

I Knew What I Wanted

Write on Edge: RemembeRED
I knew what I wanted.

At 16, I knew I didn't want to live in Pennsylvania.

At 18, I knew I wanted to go to college.  In Pennsylvania and not too far from home.

At 20, I knew I wanted to go to grad school in Pennsylvania.

At 21, I knew I wanted to leave school and help my Mom who was diagnosed with breast cancer.

At 22, I knew I wanted to have fun and be single.

At 23, I knew I wanted the man I loved to come from Iraq safely.

At 24, I knew I wanted to still live in Pennsylvania close to my family but with my then boyfriend.

At 25, I knew I wanted to be married and support my soon to be husband so I knew I wanted to move to Maryland.

At 26, I knew I wanted to finally finish my degree and start a career.

At 27, I knew I wanted to be a mom and my career wasn't so important.

At 28, I never knew I wanted to have another baby.

Now, at almost 31, I know that I never really knew what I wanted.  What I wanted and what I have now are different.  Different and better.  I have more than I ever thought I wanted or would have.  I am grateful for lost dreams and the bends in my journey that put me in the place I am now.

I always think of what would have happened if I had all the things I thought I wanted.  I would never have ended up in some random bar in upstate New York.  I would never have been introduced to my husband, a New England fan from Massachusetts.  I wouldn't be where I am right now, on my couch with my 2 little girls napping away and my husband watching some cheesy 80's movie next to me.

I am blessed to not have gotten what I wanted.

Focus Friday

"Whatever we focus on is bound to expand. Where we see the negative, we call forth more negative. And where we see the positive, we call forth more positive. Having loved and lost, I now love more passionately. Having won and lost, I now win more soberly. Having tasted the bitter, I now savor the sweet."
 Marianne Williamson 

I love this quote because I find myself getting so caught up in what's going on that I forget to find the good in things.  That's why I took such a long break from blogging.  I was just too focused on life's problems and I never wanted this to be a place where I vented.  Trust me, sometimes I have wanted to just spew all my negativity but I hate the thought of having my knee jerk reaction documented.  My feelings about things tend to change frequently and quickly once I calm down.  Unfortunately, sometimes it's hard to tear yourself away from the negativity.

Since I got this snazzy new camera for Christmas, I figure that the best way to focus on the positive is to photograph it.  Make a sort of weekly collage of the positive things.  The sweet things.  Things like this little bambina... 

Or that fact that Abby thought I was lonely because Dan's been working nights and decided to leave me a friend to cuddle with:

My goal for this new year is to quit dwelling on the negative and to be thankful for all the good.  I need to slow down and take the time to laugh and love.  Because there are people who I am grateful to have in my and my daughters life.

I hope to make this a weekly thing... kind of like a week in review of all the goodness that life has to offer.  Because even though I still have to work my way through the stressful stuff, there are things that make that all worthwhile and I need a reminder.


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