Unsettled

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I love this time of year. Something about Christmas music, decorations, and celebrations always pull me towards my family. I can remember multiple times over the last decade, after spending Christmas in Ohio, crying to Chris because I hate living so far from our families. I used to ask him to promise me that we would move back someday. He was always honest with me; explaining that family is important to him too but that he couldn’t make that promise. A year or two ago we went as far as driving around Ohio to see if we could see ourselves there. As much as I hated to say it out loud, it honestly didn’t feel right at the time. That helped me to become more content with where we are but I’ve always kept the hope alive that someday our kids would be closer to family.

This year was no different. As much as I was ready to come back home, I loved being with family over Christmas. I love watching my boys play with their cousins and see their love and excitement for their grandparents. It warms my heart. It makes me second guess our decisions.

I find myself as conflicted on this today as I have been for the past five years. We have a wonderful life in Chicago, yet none of us are getting any younger. Maybe we are losing precious time with the ones we love. Still, picking up and moving to the suburbs in Ohio is scary and unsettling. Surely being close to family in a new place will bring its own set of problems. Will there be enough opportunities and stimulation for Chris? Will our marriage grow stronger or suffer? Are the things we want for the boys reason enough to pick up and move?

I don’t know the answer to any of this. I know that we aren’t moving back to Ohio tomorrow or anytime this year for that matter. I also know that I still hold hope in my heart. More than anything I ask God to guide us. I ask Him to allow me to lift up my worries and help me to trust that this too is in His plan for us. Each day, I work to allow myself to let go of my own will and the illusion that my life is totally in my control. Deep down I believe that we are living out God’s plan for us and that plan is perfect. It is a daily struggle for me and a difficult practice of letting go.

Making the most of my workouts

Although I don’t always feel like it, I love to work out. It’s like therapy for me. Unfortunately though, it’s tough to get to gym these days. I prefer to workout 4-5 days a week but lately I’ve only been able to squeeze in two days. Maddox seems to get sick every time I take him to the gym daycare so I’ve only been going on the days that I have a sitter. Even on these days, I don’t have the luxury of spending hours at the gym. I always have a laundry list of things to get done and I almost always run out of time.

For this reason, my workouts almost always consist of HIT and/or supersets. Since I’m trying to build up my booty, I focus a lot of my time and energy on these muscles. Here’s a look at my workout for the day:

1 mile warm up run- alternating speed every 10th of the mile

Super set #1: Straight leg deadlift(10 reps, using 40 lb bar); 30 seconds jumping lunges, rest 1 minute, repeat 2 x’s

Super set #2: Walking lunges (20, using 20 lb dumbbells); 30 second jump squats, rest 1 minute, repeat 2 x’s

Super set #3: Set ups (10 per leg, holding 15 lb dumbbells); 1 minute plank, rest 1 minute, repeat 2 x’s

1 mile run- intervals, alternating speed every 10th of a mile

This should only take about 45 minutes and then I’m on to the next thing. Regardless of how long it takes, I’ll be feeling it tomorrow. I spend my “off days” playing with my boys, pushing them in the stroller to the park or zoo, and constantly holding one (sometimes both) of them. It’s not an ideal fitness plan but it’s the season of life that I’m in and I’ve been enjoying the summer with them. My days of training will surely return in the years ahead. For now, I’m thankful for my quick and effective workouts.

Letter to my second son

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To my baby boy,

 

I want you to always know how much you are loved. I will admit when you were busy growing inside of me I worried if it would ever be possible to love another child the way I love your brother. When you were born my instincts took over and I knew that I would do anything to protect you. Sure, I loved you from the start but over time I have fallen for you head over heels. See, I didn’t realize that both of my boys could be so special in such different ways. Maybe I thought that since I already had one son that I knew what it meant to be the mother to a boy. I didn’t know then how much you would teach me. We recently celebrated your first birthday and I can tell you that sometime over the past year, you have changed me in more ways that you’ll ever know. You have challenged what I thought I already knew. You have grown my heart even bigger. You have shown me what I was missing in my life without even knowing it. I want you to know that you were made out of love and that we always wanted you. Unsuspecting people ask us if we would like to have a girl. Sometimes I think that these people are asking us if we had wished that you had been a girl. The answer is no, my love. It is you that we wanted. Daddy and I both were ready for a baby and it is you that we longed for. You were and still are the perfect addition to our family. Regardless of what this life brings you, always know that you are loved and you are a part of us. Always and forever, Your Momma

Off schedule

Yesterday we got home from our ten day tour of Ohio. We had a family member’s high school graduation party one weekend and a friend’s wedding the next so we decided to stay for the week. Overall everything went really well. Sure, it’s a bit challenging living out of a suitcase for a week. It’s also no fun sharing a room with our baby  who forgets how to sleep through the night every time we travel. Regardless though, each day was a new adventure and everyone adjusted pretty well.

We got home mid-day yesterday and after some unpacking the boys and I went out back to play. Apparently it had rained quite a bit recently because our deck was pretty wet. Since both boys were covered in dirty water and sand, I decided that we’d go in and get them bathed before I made dinner. Sure, this is a really small adjustment in their schedule but I started thinking about it while I was cooking dinner and I realized how good it is for me to get out of my routine. I’m a planner. I get anxiety when the boys are late (or miss) naps, or mealtimes, or anything else planned. While this scheduler part of me can be very helpful and does maintain order in our household, I also know that it can be to a fault. It’s a constant battle for me to appreciate this part of me while also calmly telling her to shut up. And while I know that the world won’t crumble if no one gets a nap one day it’s much better for me to live it than to try to convince myself.

That’s why even though there were challenging parts of our Ohio trip, I’m also so thankful for it. We spent amazing time with family and friends, we went new places, and showed the boys a little more of where we came from. Just as important though, it forced me out of my habits and while this can be an uncomfortable place to be, it’s also the only way to grow. Hopefully, for at least a little while, I can take a deep breath and relax.

Dear forgotten blog…

Dear forgotten blog,

I’m sorry if you feel neglected. I do realize that it has been 2, maybe 3 months, since I last wrote. I think of you often. I have sat down to write many times. Usually I get interrupted by a screaming newborn or an equally angry toddler. On the days when I do actually get a few minutes of quiet time, I’m often too tired or to distracted by the mound of things on my to-do-list to actually form sentences. You see, we were blessed with a baby boy two months ago and life is well, busy. Other than a few extra minutes to myself or a full night of uninterrupted sleep, I wouldn’t change a thing, but I don’t exactly have a lot of free time these days.

I have to go. I’m sorry this is so short. I promise to write again soon. I have mounds of topics I’d like to discuss but right now I need to pick up this messy house for the thousandth time today so that my 2 year old can destroy it in about an hour.

Love to all,

Mel

The start of 2014

Sorry that I haven’t written for a while. I have blog topics swimming around my head but I don’t have the energy or the motivation right now to do the research and actually write about them. To say things have been hectic seems like an understatement. Chris, Brooks, and I drove back to Ohio to celebrate Christmas the Friday before the big day. I was just getting over my cold and unfortunately Brooks’s was just starting to gain steam. We spent almost a week in Ohio which was really nice. We were able to celebrate with both families and although it was busy it didn’t feel like too much. The only down side is that Brooks’s cold turned into croup. I was very concerned about this because we were heading to stay with my brother and his family which included our 10 day old niece. Luckily Brooks somehow didn’t infect any of his 3 cousins and despite fevers and that awful cough, we had a really nice time. The day after Christmas we packed up our overly loaded SUV and headed back to Chicago. We had less than 24 hours at home before heading to the airport on Friday to fly to Big Sky, Montana with friends. We thought that Brooks was on the mend but apparently we were wrong. During our almost week stay there, he had high fevers on multiple days in a row and after two trips to the medical clinic he was finally diagnosed with ear infections. Meanwhile, in Ohio, Chris’s Dad took himself to the ER because he wasn’t feeling well and over the course of a few days we found out that he had suffered a heart attack about three weeks prior and he needed the tear in his heart to be mended as well as bypass surgery. We were packing up to leave Big Sky on the Thursday, January 2nd when the nurses told Chris that they were transporting his dad to Cleveland Clinic and that he should get there that night because he could have surgery as soon as the next morning. Considering that Chicago was experiencing blizzard-like conditions, I was sure none of us were getting anywhere. Amazingly we all got where we needed to that night. I took a very tired Brooks home and Chris flew on to Cleveland. The next morning, Friday, Brooks woke up with a 103 degree fever despite being on antibiotics for several days. He also developed a rash. I decided to take him in to the pediatrician on Saturday to make sure his ears were healing. I ended up back at the pediatrician yesterday for what is now a raging rash all over his poor little body. The good news is that his ears are healing and the doctor’s said the rash is likely viral and not a big concern. The bad news is that I had the pediatrician look at my ear to confirm what I already knew: my head cold has caused me to have an ear infection. Yuck. Hence, why I’m too tired and lazy to do a little research and write a post that is not solely about my life.

As for Chris’s dad, he had surgery on Monday and he came through it very well. He is starting the long process of recovering. Regardless of the fact that I feel like hell, that it’s been subarctic conditions in Chicago, and that we had practically been snowed-in, I’m feeling very blessed. Brooks is feeling better and he still has his Pappy. I’m also 13 weeks pregnant and I had an ultrasound on Monday to check for genetic abnormalities. Not only did I get to see the little one bouncing around in my tummy but all of the markers that they tested for came back as low risk.

I’m sure that we will continue to face adversities throughout this coming year. Life isn’t perfect, but I know that I will continue to count my blessings. My family is safe and healthy (pretty much). We have a warm home to shield us from this brutal weather. We have a lot of love in our lives. We have a lot to be thankful for.

Tiny little lessons

I’ve always known that a big part of being a parent is teaching your child. Each day presents new opportunities to teach both big and small lessons. Everything from teaching him right from wrong to how to hold a crayon is a learning experience. The part that I didn’t expect was that he would teach me so much in return.

Brooks, being the full-blown toddler that he is, is definitely a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. One minute he is squealing in delight and literally the next he is screaming and throwing himself on the floor. Last week he was particularly mad at me when I went to put him down for a nap. He tried repeatedly to smack me in the face when I picked him up to take him upstairs and his melt-down continued until he used the back of his head to full-on head-butt me. It struck me with such force and such shock that I literally started crying. My first reaction was to be mad. I thought of yelling at him, putting him in his crib, and storming out. Luckily, I got myself together. I explained that he hurt me and that it wasn’t nice. I asked if he was sorry and he replied with a soft, “yeah”. I asked for a kiss and afterwards he put his head down on my chest for longer than he ever has before.

I wish that I could say that I’ve dealt with all of his moods with such grace. Truth is that I haven’t. I’ve yelled at him. I’ve lost my temper. I’ve slapped his hand. None of these things seem to work but more importantly they make me feel horrible.

I’m certainly not advocating not disciplining our children. I believe discipline is an important and necessary job as a parent. The difference how I’m reacting to his tantrum. Chris and I recently had this discussion. Brooks is still too young to know how to regulate all of his emotions. Being the parents and the adults, we should be much better at this. Unfortunately though, this doesn’t come easily to me. Losing my temper and my patience with every tantrum he throws isn’t beneficial for either of us. Even worse, I found myself getting pissed when he was acting out and then holding on to that anger.

I’ve always admired Chris’s ability to forgive. He can get over something almost instantly. I, on the other hand, usually stew over things. I have to think them through and then make my peace. Brooks, with his rollercoaster of moods, is slowing teaching me how to instantly and whole-heartedly forgive.

Patience is another one of my short-comings. My mind races a mile a minute. I’m thinking about my next task even before I’ve completed my first one. I love to-do-lists, checking off tasks, and feeling accomplished. These days I don’t write as many to-do-lists and the ones that I do write get checked off much more slowly. Actually everything in my life now takes longer. I used to think I would rock at that Super-Market Sweepstakes show. I can take down a grocery store in no time. That; however, is now only when Brooks isn’t with me. Slowly I’m learning that I don’t have to rush through all of my daily activities. Yesterday after I picked Brooks up at the gym day-care we headed up to get a smoothie. After hanging out for a while enjoying it we started making the long trek down multiple flights of stairs to the parking garage. Brooks wanted to walk and even though it takes a lot more time and the steps are border-line scary (obviously while holding my hand), I let him walk the entire way himself. Multiple people passed us and a few commented that we weren’t getting anywhere. While we were getting nowhere fast, it didn’t matter. Brooks was happy and so was I.

As an adult my parents have often told me how much I’ve taught them. I suppose I saw this from an egocentric point of view. I thought it was because I had so much to offer ( feels ridiculous to write that but it’s true). I realize now, that it is another wonderful gift of parenting. As long as we are open to the lessons, each day allows us to improve upon something in our lives that we aren’t so good at. I’m certainly not healed of my many flaws, but Brooks is helping me reevaluate things and make small changes for the better. I’m sure he will teach me many lessons in life. Unconditional love is certainly at the top. As for what’s to come, I guess we’ll see.

The changing seasons

Brooks (2) fall 2013

It’s a chilly but sunny Monday. I woke up with a sore throat and a runny nose. Brooks is taking a much-needed nap (after throwing a series of temper tantrums). I have soup on for dinner and a hot cup of tea while I write. Overall life is good. For possibly the first time in my life, I’ve been really enjoying fall. I love how beautiful the leaves are right now. I’ve been enjoying the brisk temps during my outside runs. I’ve never been able to enjoy fall before because I’m always too busy dreading what’s to come. We decided this year not to go to Miami (sad) so you would think I’d be dreading the winter even more than usual, but I’m not. Just like the weather, my perspective has been changing. A few weeks ago, I realized that I was living in a “grass is greener” mentality. I was impatient with Brooks’s quickly changing moods, I was needy of Chris, and sometimes angry at him for being unable to make me feel appreciated. I was letting my insecurities get the best of me. Some of this was hormonal. Some of this was an unconscious choice that I was making each day. I’m not saying that I’ve turned this all around. Yes, I still grew impatient and angry at Brooks this morning when he threw himself on the floor for the zillionth time. Life isn’t perfect and it’s never going to be.

Recently one of our babysitters told me a story of an interview she had with a pregnant mother of a 3-year-old daughter. The mother asked the sitter if she has any children. When our babysitter told her no, the mother said, “Oh that must be so nice to be able to do whatever you want, when you want.” The babysitter told me the story and laughed and I did too. Isn’t it funny that we all over simplify things that we don’t have to make them appear so desirable? I think we all spend too much thought on the things we don’t have rather than being thankful for the things we do. For me, I want another baby. I have spent entirely too much time thinking about this rather than spending all of that time and energy focusing on the beautiful boy that I do have.

A few years ago, I was keeping a gratitude diary. It’s amazing when you start to write down all of the things in your life that you are grateful for. You realize how truly blessed you are and sometime in the process your mood gets lifted. Although I haven’t started the diary part yet (I should), I have been listing things I’m grateful for as I run or when I pray at night. It’s such a simple yet profound exercise.

I don’t know what the coming season will bring. Right now, I’m focusing on the fact that life is exactly as it should be. I’m feeling blessed.

Brooks and Chris fall 2013

My boys watching Sunday football

Brooks fall 2013

 

 

My legacy

Last night my husband and I had dinner with a very successful entrepreneur and her boyfriend. She and Chris talked a lot of shop throughout dinner which was to be expected. To her credit, she was also very thoughtful throughout dinner and made sure to ask about Brooks and include me in the conversation whenever possible. Still, at the end of the night, I left feeling insecure about myself. Being a stay at home mom carries a certain stigma. I feel that others look at me like I’m not intelligent, driven, or even interesting. Often in our society, your worth is measured by the status of your position and the amount of money you make. I remember when I quit my job doing medical device sales and started doing personal training I felt slightly the same way. I suppose people may feel the same way when they retire. Like it or not, our identity is tied to what we do. I often find myself wanting to tell people who I just met that I had a successful career in sales prior to being a mom and a personal trainer. When I discussed the matter with my husband (with tears of course), he pointed out that the issue is actually the way I view being a stay at home mom. In his opinion people don’t view me any differently, I just think they do. To be honest, I don’t totally believe this but I do think he has a point. Why do I need validation from other people (especially people I hardly know) that I’m smart and interesting? Why don’t I have enough confidence in myself to know that I’m both and that I’m also a really good mother? I remember when I was doing medical device sales and I was at the top of my game, I still told one of my co-workers that at the end of my life I didn’t feel that my success at work meant anything. I didn’t want people talking about how I was really good at sales at my funeral. I realized at that point that even though society may have thought more of me because I was making good money, my value in this life comes from who I am, not what I do. Funny now, because that’s not entirely true. I do believe what I do each day is really important. Sure, I’m not going to cure cancer, but I hope to raise a kind, loving, intelligent son who does good in the world. What I spend my days doing now is more important to me than what I used to do. On top of that, I’m doing exactly what I want to be doing. I want to be the one to teach Brooks his first words, to pick him up and kiss his boo-boos, and to teach him to say “please” and “thank you”. So why even after I know all of this, do I feel so small sitting across from a self-made successful business-woman? I guess I just need to remind myself each day that even though I may not have a glamorous job, I have an important one and the only one that I want right now. At the end of my life, I pray that people will tell my children that they had a really good mother, that I loved them with all of my heart, and that I loved raising them. And, I hope that as people say this, my children will already know all of this to be true.

Toddler tales

Brooks september 2013

I’m sitting in the kitchen as we speak watching Brooks rearrange my cupboards. So far he has put his pear in the drawer where the pans are and the prunes have a new home under the oven. I’ve been thinking a lot these days of what it means to be a mom of a toddler. I continue to amaze myself by the things that I will do for this child. I’m not talking big stuff…of course I would do anything to keep him safe and healthy. I’m talking the day to day stuff. A little over a month ago, we flew to Ohio and Brooks was eating the complimentary little bag of pretzels. Well actually he was eating the salt off of the pretzels and then taking the soggy pretzels out of his mouth and putting them into mine. Obviously they were disgusting but I still ate them. About a week ago, Chris and I were putting him to bed. He had just gotten out of the tub so he was walking around his room in his birthday suit. I was trying to get lotion on him and he bent over right in front of me and farted in my face. Chris and I died laughing. He is definitely the only person in the entire world who can get away with this. Having a toddler means eating the crust on the pb&J even though I hate the crust. It means giving him the last bite of whatever I’m having, holding him until my arm feels like it’s numb, wiping his nose with whatever I have on hand including my hand or sleeve (gross, I know). It means dragging myself out of bed in the morning with only enough time to pee and brush my teeth. It means being covered in food, drool, and occasionally snot. As I watch Chris come down the stairs looking very GQ as he leaves for work, I’m painfully aware of what I look like. Usually though I have Brooks in one arm and a spatula in the other, so I’m too busy to care for long. I have gotten crazy good at doing things with one hand. The other day, I was holding Brooks on one hip, talking to Chris on the phone, and kicking a ball to Brooks’s delight to my brother-in-law. None of these skills would get me very far in corporate America but in my day to day life, they are becoming quite useful.

As I write this I’m only half with you. The other half of me is keeping an eye on his every move. Brooks is very energetic, curious, and busy. He’s into everything and really only occupies himself without my help for a few minutes at a time. Some days I find this exhausting. Today, I find it amusing. Days like today I want to have a handful of Brooks running around the house. There are other days when I can barely find the energy and the patience to survive until nap time.

Last Saturday, Brooks took his first nose dive down two stairs at the park. He succeeded in skinning his forehead and nose and screaming bloody murder for quite sometime. Yesterday, he gave his forehead a new bruise when he banged it on our dining room table. In both instances, I was less than two feet away from him. I have caught him about a thousand times so I guess the odds are against me. He’s bound to fall and fall he does. Often I feel like a helicopter mom, hovering over his every move. I have no idea how much space a toddler needs but I don’t feel like I give much to Brooks and yet his face still looks like he lost a fight at the playground.

Brooks September 2013 (2)

I suppose I’m rambling. Most of my posts have a point or some advice or whatever. I definitely don’t have any advice in this one. Fact is that each day brings something new. Brooks is figuring out how to explore his world and I’m figuring out how to get him through.

Regardless though of how crazy some of our days get, or how frustrated I get when his new “thing” is repeatedly hitting me in the face, I also love this age. Everyday he learns something new. Seeing the world through his eyes is both exciting and challenging. With a coffee cup in one hand, I welcome the challenge.