Monday, December 31, 2012

2012--The Year of Guilt

Guilt for not taking enough pictures or video

Guilt for having my kids do too much organized activity

Guilt for not having my kids do enough organized activity

Guilt for feeling sad about something that happened to someone else

Guilt for eating too much and exercising too little

Guilt for not playing with my kids enough

Guilt for having a messy house

Guilt for not making dinner for my family every night

Guilt for not being intimate enough with my husband

Guilt for thinking, “Thank God that wasn’t my child” when tragedy struck someone else’s family

2012 was the Year of Guilt.

2013 will be the Year of Confidence … Confidence that I’m doing my best, even when it may not be enough. As every mom knows, the hardest thing to tell yourself (and believe it) is “I’m okay that it isn’t enough … as long as I have loved enough.”

Happy New Year, Crap Lovers! Thank you for being with me my first year. It's been fun.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

My Tears Do Mean Something

It’s been over two weeks since sadness fell over Newtown, CT, and the world. I haven’t felt much like writing since then, and it took me a week before I could begin reading the social media. Every post, every tweet, every blog, every comment, every picture sent tears down my face and weighed down my heart with an ache almost unbearable. I knew I was not alone. I knew that every person around the world who heard this story felt the same way. I knew because I read, and I read, and I read.

It was story after story of parents who were terrified to drop their children off at the doors of their schools, moms who slept with their children as to not allow even an inch of space between them and the monsters that may prey upon them, teachers who played out scenarios in their heads as to how they would protect their students if they were called to action one day, and people of all kinds who just couldn’t get a handle on the grief that set over them and the sadness they felt for the families who lost their precious loved ones in one of the most unimaginably, horrific acts to ever touch our lives.

Some people’s way to express emotion was to write poems, draw pictures, or offer prayers. Those all choked me up, too. But, then, I am so upset to say that some of my feelings of heartache and sadness turned to anger and resentment. For, as I read the comments to some of these beautiful messages, I found that not everyone was “agreeable.” I found that some people decided to use the comments section as their soapbox for their views on God and gun control. Here someone was trying to offer sentiments in the best way they knew how, and someone else had to poo poo on it with their social, religious, or political views.

I am all for freedom of speech, but come on folks, let’s practice common human decency here. If you want to start your own post or blog on how we should get rid of all guns or how God doesn’t really exist, go for it. Don’t dump that on someone else’s heartfelt message—whether you agree with what they wrote, or not. Of any time to show kindness and compassion, this is it.

I saw one message that questioned why people were expressing their emotions all over social media. This person said it seems like these people are trying to make this all about them when it has nothing to do with them. This person said, “Pick up a phone and call your mom or your friend if you need to get it off your chest.” In so many words, this person said, no one wants to read about you feeling sorry for yourself when it wasn’t you who lost a child or a family member.

My first reaction was to be angry and defensive, but I did not react at all. Instead, I went off and thought about an appropriate response. I decided maybe it was unfair for me to be angry with this person’s attack. I knew this person felt as sad about what happened as the next person. But, still, I do feel the outpouring of emotion in the social media does need a defense.

I use Facebook as part of “my community.” I won’t share everything with this community, but it’s nice to know I have its ear 24 hours a day, even when I do not require a response. For many, including me, it’s nice to know that other people have the same feelings and are grieving, too. When I try to sleep at night and can’t stop thinking about how scared those children were or what they were witnessing before their own lives were taken, it helps me to open my computer and see that a friend has written on a similar struggle.

Yes, we could call a friend or family member and get some of this off our chest. But, I’m a little different. I will admit I am not great about getting “deep” with people. I am a little guarded and don’t usually let people see the vulnerable side of me. But, when I write it, it feels safer. Sometimes I want my loved ones to know I am hurting, but blogging about it is my passive-aggressive approach.

I saw a college friend over the holidays, who happened to be friends with the sister and brother-in-law of the Sandy Hook Guidance Counselor who lost her life. I’ve known this friend for 20 years, and we are very close. But, we both hesitated bringing up the topic because we knew what it would lead to. A couple of glasses of wine later, we dove in. The tears flowed and the hours passed. It was cleansing, but exhausting. Writing is definitely the easy way out of our emotions, for many of us.

Do I expect sympathy? No, of course not. Nor, do I believe, do the others who express their feelings in writing. But, does it provide comfort to know there are many others out there feeling the same? Having the same sleepless nights? Shedding the same tears? Asking the same questions? It does to me. And, person who questioned motives, please find compassion in you to avoid judgment this time.

How cynical are you to think that people have an ulterior motive here? I have faith in human empathy. If you don’t feel the need to discuss your feelings in an open forum, that’s fine. I hope my friends and digital acquaintances continue to write about this. We are a community. The more we talk about this, the more it will stay to the forefront, and the more we will fight to protect our children from potential future indescribable acts. I refuse to sweep it under the rug. We owe it to those babies … and to our own.

You are right. These were not my children. These were not my brother’s children. These were not my friend’s children. But, these were children. And, my tears for them do mean something.

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Friday, December 14, 2012

Talking about Violence with Kids

Here is a piece on talking to your kids about violence. Please pass this along to anyone with any age school kids. Shared with me from a Henrico County teacher today. Thanks, Misty.

Talking Violence with your Children

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Happy 1st Birthday, Bear!

My bear's cake and cupcakes. Might be a little salty. I'm having a really tough time with the fact that my baby is 1. Boo hoo. No one told me how hard it would be when my baby turned 1. Dang.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Let your kids do things on their own before you think they are ready. I have made many assumptions with my 4-year-olds over the years that they were not ready for the next thing. I guess a lot of the time it’s just easier and faster to do it myself—and, I know it will get done the right way. I have had to force myself to step back and let it play out. More often than not, I am shocked by their abilities. It starts when you give your baby the spoon and the bowl for the first time. It won’t end pretty, but the sense of accomplishment you see on his face is worth it.

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Monday, December 10, 2012

Twins and Their Artwork

I asked my 4-year-old twins to make a Christmas card for their teachers. Now, I’m not sure if this is a boy-girl thing or a Weber-Capri thing, but, as you can see, there is a stark contrast between the two cards. Capri drew a picture of the night Jesus was born (on the left). This was the third piece of paper she used because she didn’t think the first two were perfect.

Weber drew a heart in the middle of the paper and said he was done. I said, “Do you want to put a little more effort and thought into it?” About 90 seconds later, he said he was really done (picture on the right). He explained it as “a Christmas heart maker that shoots out hearts onto a birthday cake.”

This is pretty typical for both of them. Capri puts a lot of effort into her artwork and gets weepy if it isn’t just like she wanted it. Weber speeds through the project so he can move onto the next thing. But, to give him credit, he comes up with the most amazing stories about what his scribble is. I’m sure this says something about him … and, I’m not sure if I want the answer.

What do you think? Is this a boy-girl thing … the 4-year-old girl who loves to color rainbows and hearts versus the 4-year-old boy with little to no attention span? Or, are these more personality-based traits?
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Oh Crap! Realization of the Day … Go the Furb to Sleep!

Furby does NOT have an off switch! Furby does NOT have an off switch! Furby does NOT have an off switch!

I wish someone would have screamed that at me a couple weeks ago when I purchased this popular Christmas toy with, I quote, “a mind of its own.”

We had an early Christmas celebration and this was a toy my daughter wanted. It sings, speaks Furbish and English (in a Valley Girl sort of way), snores, burps, purrs, and is flat out sassy sometimes. It’s actually a pretty cute little toy, except that the only way to shut it up is by putting it in a quiet room for a couple minutes. Then, whatever you do, don’t touch it, because that wakes it up.

My daughter wanted to show it to her teachers this morning. We took it in, then I took it with me to save the teachers’ sanity. I put it in the car seat and shut off the radio. It babbled for a minute, started snoring, and fell asleep. It was harder to get this thing to sleep and keep it asleep than an actual baby. I’d hit a bump in the road, and there we’d go again!

How do you say, “Go the F*** to sleep!” in Furbish? Go the FURB to sleep!

My answer: A Phillips-Head Screwdriver!

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Oh Crap! Realization of the Day … Facebook and the Elf

Don’t look at Facebook if your kids are looking over your shoulder. Today, while scanning the news feed, I came across an Elf with a dollar bill in his hand and naked Barbie on what appeared to be an ornament stand pole. My daughter said, “Is that Elfie with Barbie?”

“Yes,” I said. “I think Elfie is giving Barbie some money so she can go buy some clothes.”

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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Oh Crap! Realization of the Day … Some Moms

I’ve realized I might not embrace mommyhood as much as I thought. I love being a mom, and I love the time—MOST of the time—I spend with my kids. And, I, like many other friends of mine, cherish the time when the kids are in school. But, today, one of my friends—whose children are NOT in college--posted this:

Can't wait for Christmas break to have my kids home all day again!”

What? Did I read that right? Most everyone else, including me, says, “Ugh. What am I going to do with my kids all day, every day, for two weeks?”

Of course, she was one of the sweetest people I knew in college, but still! Way to make me feel like a bad mom. Hahaha! Just kidding … kind of.

I guess I should look at the extra time as a bonus. And, realistically, I do love the days it is just the kids and I, especially now that the twins have school 4 mornings/week. Those Fridays are special days for us. Though, when full day turns into full days, my patience level gets lower and lower and that is when I start counting the days until school starts again. I guess some moms just have it. Sadly, I’m not some mom.

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Oh Crap! Realization of the Day … Santa Shopping

Don’t do your Santa shopping before your kids visit Santa. You think you know what they are going to ask for, then they go and change it at the last second.

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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Oh Crap! Realization of the Day … Pacifiers

As my family was sitting at the restaurant last night, inhaling our food because of our ticking time bomb, our 11-month-old known affectionately as, “Bear,” I realized how much I absolutely love the pacifier (paci, binky, naw naw, num num, plug, dummie, tup tup, bee bee). I could literally mouth kiss the person who invented this simple, yet sanity-saving device.

Then, I thought back to when I was pregnant with my first (the twins), and swore I would never give them a pacifier. I was one of those people who read way too much on the Internet while I was pregnant. I remember being so angry with the nurses in the hospital after the twins were born, because they gave them pacifiers in the nursery without checking with me. I was all, “I’m not going to give my babies a pacifier. They’ll never learn to latch. They’ll never learn to talk. They will have a problem with ear infections.”

About 90 seconds after we were home, I threw that whole theory right out the window, along with the number to the lactation consultant who told me I shouldn’t use them. They latched just fine. They talked when they should have (maybe early). They had maybe one ear infection.

I used them until they were 2, and weaning them was no problem at all. We tried at 18 months, but found it was somewhat of a battle. At 2, they understood so much more and were talking so they could communicate with us about the situation. One evening, the kids and I gathered up all the pacis and put them in a bag. We left them for the Paci Fairy, who was going to take them to new babies. The next morning, the Paci Fairy left an interactive stuffed animal that said their names, sang songs, and played games. They never once asked for the paci after that.

I truly think I may have been institutionalized had it not been for the pacifier. This is just one parent’s story, though. I’d love to hear yours!

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Monday, December 3, 2012

Oh Crap! Realization of the Day ... Morning Sickness Sucks if You Are Not a Duchess

So, Kate Middleton is pregnant. I'll admit, I'm rather excited. But, she was admitted to the hospital for acute morning sickness and will stay there for a few days. Do I really need to go on?

If you experienced morning sickness, you know that there are days you wish you were in the hospital, pumped with some good drugs, and having someone pat a warm washcloth on your face. But, most of us live in reality—not at Disney World, where my daughter thinks Kate lives.

I had morning sickness with both of my pregnancies—it started around 5 weeks and ended between 12-13 weeks. For me, it was all-day nausea, with a break around 6 pm. I would then eat all of my calories at one sitting (usually pasta with meat sauce). Then about an hour later, the nausea would come back until I went to sleep. Fortunately, I only vomited a few times throughout those 8 weeks, and it was typically after being in a vehicle.

The doctor prescribed anti-nausea medication, but the first one made me so tired that I couldn’t function. She prescribed a second one that worked pretty well and didn’t make me sleepy, but it was expensive and my insurance company would only cover enough for about a third of a month. I found myself rationing it based upon plans I had throughout the month. I tried every remedy you read online and in the “What to Expect” books, but nothing worked. You live with it and think you will never feel good again, then one day you wake up and it’s finally fun to be pregnant … for about 3 more months.

I was lucky I worked at home during my first pregnancy. I could lie on the couch whenever I needed … take a nap here and there … take a shower or bath during the day. I remember thinking, how can women go into a job every day feeling like this? Then … I got pregnant while I had twin 2 ½-year-olds. Again, do I really need to go on?

I’ve known some moms who dealt with nausea and vomiting throughout their whole pregnancy. For me, it was almost enough to not get pregnant again. But, I guess like childbirth, you forget enough of the bad to allow you to do it again.

I really have no advice here, except marry a prince. Happy pregnancy, Duchess!

P.S. I really do hope she feels better soon.

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Crap No One Tells You ... About Crying in Front of Your Kids

My 4-year-old daughter caught me with tears in my eyes—one of the “moments” I’ve had in the last few days since I lost a cousin to a car accident. She asked me why I was sad, and I told her that one of my cousins died and went to be with God in Heaven. She understands death to the extent that when something or someone dies, it no longer moves or talks or breathes. And, she knows that God is good. So she said, “Won’t he like being with God?”

Ugh. How does a 4-year-old make more sense out of this than an adult?

So, I thought for a minute about how I can make this seem better than the horrific event that it is. By this time, my 4-year-old son came in and I filled him in. Then, I told them that, yes, he would like being with God. Cousin Richard was a carpenter, so I told them that God is the Master Carpenter, and that I am sure Cousin Richard will learn so much from God about building things. I also told them that Cousin Richard was a very good singer and that he would be singing with the angels, for sure.

Then, the Heaven questions started, like “Will he eat in Heaven?” and “Will he move in Heaven?” and “Is Heaven in the sky?”

This all made me cry more, but also laugh at the same time. I thought it would be traumatic for the kids to see me cry, so I spent most of the weekend planning fun Christmas outings, like visiting Santa (where I actually laughed when the baby cried … classic first-time Santa visit), and seeing the Christmas lights at the botanical garden. I also went shopping and bought three pair of shoes. That did not make me feel better, but it got me out of the house and kept me from breaking down in front of the kids. Turns out, it’s not traumatic for them to see me cry. In fact, I should have let them see me sooner. They made me feel better than anyone could have.

The sadness is still very much in my heart, but for a moment I can be happy for the peace I am sure he has found. Rest in peace, Cousin Richard. Your infectious smile will be missed terribly.

For Cousin Richard Paulsen, March 14, 1972 - December 1, 2012