Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A house full 'o family. (Beach 2014)

Sixteen people living in one house for 7 days. Seven of which are children. Go ahead and just close your eyes for one second. Imagine the peaceful tranquility that comes along with beach living. And then trample that out with the sound of chaos. Yep, pretty much :)

Me and my clan were totally sick all week. I mean, hacking coughs, sore throat, feeling so icky. I had legit laryngitis for two days, and could hardly mutter a word (I'm sure my family loved this). My kid's didn't sleep. There were some nights Lucy had us up for HOURS and hours at a time. I woke up with hangover headaches from lack of sleep and I wasn't even hungover.

But the good news is that no matter what, in the end, we really did have fun. Yes, there are obstacles. Yes, there are family dynamics at play. Yes, there can be moments of chaos with lots of small children. And yes, dishes still need to be done at a beachhouse. But-we are glad we got those memories. Happy to have little great moments to hold onto, captured on video or in photos forever.

Those things last. The memories of small moments of chaos or whatever? Nah, it doesn't.


And oh there was fun. Like playing Heads Up with my family and belly laughing at how my dad held the phone over his eyes instead of his forehead, or the way my mom threw out the most ridiculous (but so her) clues. The time we played bocce ball once the kids were in bed at the park behind our house and as we found out I threw the winning ball, jumped into Declan's arms for a victory hug. Watching my girl's absolutely love on their little baby cousin, Deacon. I mean, I have some baby obsessed children (shut up, people, I know what you're thinking), and it's ridiculously cute. Or just seeing that sweet baby experience some 'firsts' and watching my sister and her husband be awesome parents.


Then there was the "our kid's didn't sleep so what the hell, let's watch the sunrise!" morning. It turned out to be beautiful and an ever so prevalent revelation of God's beauty. Because, wow. I don't get to experience beach sunrises enough. I think I need to move there.


If we didn't have this trip we wouldn't have gotten all these special memories with my dad. Of all the grandkids splashing away in the pool, and being silly with him. We wouldn't have all crammed on the sofa and watched The Bachelorette together while cursing commercial breaks, because hellooooo, DVR rocks. We wouldn't have had after dinner walks on the beach, and rides and waterice on the boardwalk. My kid's wouldn't have made sweet memories with their cousin's. We wouldn't have gotten to see Paxton & Emeline (and Lucy, too) hold hands and give endless hugs throughout the day. 





It's always, always worth it. Photos and video constantly remind me of that. 

***

Video Recap 2014

Monday, July 14, 2014

I think puppy prozac saved my life.

(First of all, I know it's weird to just go silent for well over a month and then pop back in to blog about MY DOG, of all things. But, yea-it's kind of life changing. So rather than write an instagram novel about it, here I am.)

hi I'm mac.

Mac was our first baby. Actually, to be honest, he was our "we want to have a baby, butttttt, let's try a dog first, k?" No offense, but I don't actually count him as a child, because, I'm not like that with pets. But he was ours and we loved that.

If I'm being honest, Mac stressed me out from day 1. He had potty issues like crazy. Was awful at being crate trained. He soiled everything. Went in our house constantly. But dang it, he was cute as freaking heck and he was our dog, so we loved him. He got a little better. Things turned around.

Then we had kids.

He was great with Emeline. Always a friendly pup and goodness gracious, he still has a love for newborns. He's super tender and protective and I find that endearing and sweet. 

As she started getting older we began to notice Mac was getting super uptight. We always referred to him as "disgruntled". He was. He would bat at his food bowl (full of food), like he was pissed off all the time. He would spill his water bowl on purpose. He was spiteful when it came to potty issues, even seconds after being out. He was totally miffed that he wasn't our highest priority anymore. 

And then Lucy came.

Mac's little world came crashing down, basically. I mean, he had his little lovey-phase of newborn cuddles and such, and then basically? It all went downhill.

He wouldn't stop barking throughout the day. He would growl NON-STOP. He would get down from sleeping as if he saw a ghost and act pissed at the world. Outside noises would send him into a crazy fury. He'd pee with excitement when guests came over. He seemed much more agitated with the girl's, and yet even if they were bothering him, he COULD NOT LEAVE THEIR SIDE. It was so weird. 

His barks and incessant growling made my blood pressure rise, I swear. After years of dealing with it, I started to resent him. We had mentioned his anxiety to the vet before and felt a little blown off. We tried natural herbal treats and he even wore the thunder shirt for nearly a year. Nothing seemed to work.

**

To be honest, I wanted to put a craigslist ad up for my dog. It sounds so horrible, but he was making my life m i s e r y. I know he was probably living in misery as well, but gahhh. It was infuriating some days. I didn't like him anymore and that made me sad. He was not a happy member of our household.

Finally, I pretty much flat-out asked my options to the vet a few weeks ago. Like, I was not leaving without SOMETHING. I told them about his issues and what he does, and was assured that it's not 'normal' dog behavior for him to be so visibly upset/anxious all the time. They went through some options with us, and we finally landed on the solution of puppy prozac. We'd give it a go and assess along the way. I was told that it could take 4-6 weeks to kick in.

**

Those were the longest 4 weeks of my life {{exaggeration}}. But! I wanted INSTANT. I wanted a calmer, happy dog immediately. We continued to give him his meds. Continued to see his awful behavior. Continued to feel disappointed but still clinging on to hope that something could change for our poor, disgruntled Mac-a-boy.

**

Last week we were on vacation and they continued his pill dosage while he was at the kennel. I was worried about him, as his transition (due to anxiety) home from the kennel in the past has been horrific to say the least. But honestly, this time it was different.

He came home and instead of acting skiddish and getting sick, he was calm and relaxed. I held my breath and waited for the next day, as it was sure to be more 'normal' and where I was pretty certain we'd see his normal behaviors come back.

But nope.

You guys, he is like A NORMAL DOG NOW. He is PLEASANT! and HAPPY! And he's not growling or barking for no reason! (Of course like a normal dog he does bark at door-bell rings and such). He is going up to his food bowl and EATING IT instead of spending half the day batting his paw at it and barking for no reason.

I ACTUALLY LIKE HIM AGAIN.

I mean, this is huge, as my tolerance for him had gone way down in the last few years. 

It may have taken 5 long weeks to kick in, but I'm gonna say it (and hold my breath while I do), but I think puppy prozac may have saved my life. And better yet, his too.

Phew. 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Spur of the moment.

One of my resolutions this year was to do more fun, on a whim-type things with my family. I love, love, love and crave genuine experiences with them. The problem is that usually things just take so long to plan. When it comes to execution, logistics, with kids and a dog and all that? It rarely works out, and sometimes it just doesn't feel worth it.

But not this time.

On Thursday I happened to notice how gorgeous the weekend ahead of us was going to be. Declan and I had just talked about this being our last free weekend for a while. I mentioned, "hey, the beach with just our little crew would be fun"--and before you know it we were booked and ready to head out at noon the next day. Just like that. All the stars aligned for it to work out, and I'm so glad it did.

Because then we could experience all this together:



We stayed at our favorite little rickety motel. The girl's both slept like crap. But beautiful weather, sand, pool, junk food, and so much fun was enough to make all the good win out, again. It always does.

I love, love, love doing life with them. Especially on a whim. I live for this stuff.

I mean, their faces-clearly having the best time of their friggin' lives ;) (apparently stopping for a picture=worst mom)




Friday, May 30, 2014

times have changed

When I started writing in a blog I was young, had all the time in the world, and enjoyed talking about the mundane and trivial things involved with being a teenager, then college student, then a graduate.

I picked back up with writing pretty intensely when I landed my first teaching job and I had stories coming out my ears about the hilarious things my students said to me and my encounters being the big adult in a classroom full of little elementary aged kids, when, honestly, I barely felt like an adult at all.

Then I wrote about things related to young marriage, and the process of buying and building our first little (and current) townhome. And then about bringing home the puppy who I didn't realize till years later would be such a stinkin' handful and more work than our two kids combined on some days.

We got pregnant and then I wrote about our devastating miscarriage, even though it felt wrong and too open and honest to share on the internet. It brought many people into my life I had never expected it would, and opened up the hearts of other hurting momma's who just felt understood by hearing my crazy intense thoughts vomited on the pages of this blog in the midst of our grief.

Then I had my beautiful Emeline and got to take the year off of teaching. I began to find this deep need to document and capture every bit of her life through my writing and photos, to be forever preserved in 'blog world'. I had time, so much time to write and process, and learn the ins and outs of motherhood, and share my fails and my victories right here. In fact, there is no baby book--her baby book was right here. Every new milestone documented, a month never went by without an update.

I shared about the journey of losing a whole lot of baby weight plus much more, and started to feel what it was like to be comfortable in my own skin. It was encouraging and motivating to write about it here, get some cheers and inspiration, and to keep going on days it didn't feel worth it. I lost 50 some pounds and at the time, I felt great.

I wrote about not being ready for a 2nd baby, and then shortly after, I wrote about being pregnant with a 2nd baby. Don't worry, I got on board, apparently. Because Lucy was as planned as planned can be. But my pregnancy was sorely documented (except for on instagram), because I came to find out that life with a wild toddler and a super sick pregnancy didn't lend itself to as much leisurely writing.

Lucy came and I'm so grateful to have documented when my two sweet girls met. It was truly a high-High in my life that I'll never, ever forget. A few posts about how a new little lady in town stole my heart here and there, and about how she never, ever slept, and oh I'm so tired.

I popped in once in a while to talk about my journey back to running and losing the baby weight again. I was torn in so many directions with my kids, my job, my husband, exercising, church duties, etc, that I could feel myself pulling away from documenting as much.

I started leaving my camera at home more and more so I could be in the present, without a hunk of camera in my face. I felt myself leaving the memories to be in little instagram snapshots from my phone with a few little lines of texts instead of long, drawn out blog posts. My brain felt blank any time I wanted to write, which felt like a huge oxymoron, because, if I want to write, I should have something to say.

I began focusing even more on my health. Upped it to the next level, began spending more time at the gym and getting over a lot of my fears. We cleaned up our eating in such a way that my body began to change and I was finally seeing what I was capable of. I have a good level of energy now for my girl's, for my family, and I feel strong. I felt like it was too boring to talk anymore about this stuff because, in a way, I've arrived, in the sense that I didn't feel like I had much more progress pics to show--to keep up with all that. I just was living it out now.

My priorities of writing and documenting fell to the wayside. I didn't have the time (because I didn't make it) to sit and just write about things in any cohesive manner every day, or even a few times a week anymore. My children keep me busier than I ever knew, and I'm in life deep with them. Sometimes too deep to pull myself out and then write about it.

I'm alright with that, I think. Because times have changed.



Monday, May 19, 2014

So much good packed in one little weekend.

So. Kind of big news---my sister, Susan had her baby.

There is no doubt, none at all, that a baby being born is just pure magic. I can feel my rough edges toward baby #3 softening as we speak, and I don't like that. BUT GUYS. BABIESSSSSS.

Why do they suck you in like that? seriously.

Anyway. I hung around the for a good long time during her labor on Friday and took snippets of the day on video. After he was born I hodge-podged it all together and now they have a special little keepsake of the day sweet Deacon Jeffrey entered the world. Also. He was huge. Like, 10lbs 9oz, 23.5" huge. Yes. huge. My sister was serious when she said he felt heavy. HE WAS. She's amazing.

So, watch this--because who doesn't like to watch the story of a baby's birthday? One day I'm hoping my sister will blog again and tell all the nitty gritty details of that long day. Until then...



It's just pure joy for me to see my sister be a momma. Pure, utter joy.

***

My babies are obsessed with babies by the way.

Ok, fine, we all are. (I'm cracking, people. Make it stop.)


God, they are so cute. All of them.

***

My little (big) lady and I attended a birthday party on Saturday for her friend Finley. After barely getting any sleep, I pulled myself together and even took some photos for them. Her party was just TOO CUTE not to document. I mean...come on, a Rainbow Dress party? Each girl got sent a paint swatch and assigned a color (not mandatory, just for fun) to wear. Hellooooo--that's adorable.

The best part is the idea all stemmed back from when Finley's mom, Lauren threw a LBD (little black dress) party this past winter. Finley insisted she wanted a "little rainbow dress" party. So a little rainbow dress party she got :)



And that was just a taste. It was way fun and she let 4 year old girls PAINT in the living room of her brand new house. Like, FULL BLOWN MESSY PAINT. She is a cooler mom than I ever will be.

***

To top off our weekend we had a babysitter (!!!!) and then attended Declan's brother's 30th birthday party. He had an awesome Roaring 20's, Speakeasy-style party---totally catered, everyone dressed up, alcohol-a-flowin', people smoking cigars, card table/games/whatever they're called going on....it was fun! We are used to getting date nights here and there, but it was definitely a different, kind of fun way to spend time out.

And my husband can totally rock that time period.


***

Between the babies, the birthdays, the beer, oh my---this weekend was amazing.

how was yours?


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Why instagram made me feel like I was doing it all wrong.

My first Mother's Day I couldn't imagine not being with 'my people'. I just wanted to hug my girl a million times, with my husband by my side, do sweet things like go to the lake, have a picnic, maybe get a sweet card and flowers as an added bonus.


The last two? I realized that I actually wanted alone time--time to be spoiled, by myself, the chance to sleep in, to go shopping alone, and basically, to be blunt, I wanted the day off.

I realize this might have to do with the fact that Emeline's birthday is always the weekend of Mother's Day. I slave away on birthday stuff for her, throw her a party, make the whole day about her as it should--so by the next morning, I'm completely and totally spent. Not to mention, minor detail, I have two children now. Both of whom are getting older and are actually more needy, and more exhausting to be around than when they were babies if I'm being honest. Oh, and--one other important fact....I'm home with them all day, every day.

I actually didn't think anything was wrong with my Mom's Day Off theory, and my husband is a strict enforcer of this, too. He seriously doesn't think I should lift a finger-and well, who can complain about that? It's just, I felt like, hey--it's Mother's Day. We all get to do (if we can/have the means/have a spouse around/family who can help, etc) what we want/choose to do with it, essentially. I just subscribe to the theory that I don't want it to be like every other day--make me feel a little special--alone time is nice to rejuvenate my soul--and, oh, added bonus, I love fresh flowers.

I go to sleep Saturday night knowing I don't have a monitor by my head and can sleep in till my little heart desires. I dream about sleeping in till 9am. In reality, I end up waking up at 6:18am. I lay and flop around a bit and try to enjoy the fact that I don't have to move from my bed for as long as I want. I roll my eyes because I am such a mom, waking up this early out of habit. It doesn't work. My stomach starts to growl. I realize I'm starving. I send a text downstairs to Declan to let him know I'm coming down soon because, I need food and coffee.


I come down to a table filled with cards and the most beautiful bouquet of flowers I've ever received. Emeline picked me out the most amazing Walmart heart ring you've ever laid your eyes on. I've worn it on my right middle finger ever since, and I won't even think about taking it off until it turns my finger green (which has already begun, ha) It's fun when they start picking out gifts for you, right?--Kinda just adds that extra sweetness factor to the whole day.

He makes me a super breakfast--omelette, bacon, fruit and coffee. Then he tells me that the plan is that I'm off for the day. That he booked me a massage at 11am, but other than that I'm free as a bird, and oh, by the way, don't worry about money either. We agreed that we'd meet back up for church that evening, because I did want to be there all together, but other than that, he's got everything else under control.

So I eat. I snuggle my kids a little. I pack a bag. I head to the gym because that's how I like to start my day if I can. I sweat and burn calories. I get ready there. I head to my massage. I enjoy it tremendously. Declan texts me a cute pic of the girls outside playing, checking in to make sure I'm enjoying myself. I am. I head off to shop for some summer dresses at a few stores. I find some things--not much. But I enjoy strolling the aisles quietly. I get a little hungry so I decide that chipotle sounds delightful. As I finally stop enough to pull out my phone, I scroll instagram as I eat the best salad loaded with All The Good Things, in silence. It is glorious.

Then I start to see all the instagrams of the momma's with their kids. With captions like, All I want is them by my side today. After all, they're the reason I'm momma, anyway. Hugging my kids all day. Spending the day with the ones who made me Mom. The list goes on.

...and immediately I felt like something was wrong with me.

When I was finished I texted my husband and let him know I'd be joining them for the rest of the afternoon. He was confused, Why? No-Stay out. You deserve time alone. We're having a great day, I got this.

I still made my way home.

We spent the afternoon together, visiting his mom and seeing his family. Going to church. Then I got to go out with my siblings and my momma to celebrate her while Declan put the kids to bed.
***

The next day, at my work meeting, we were all talking about our Mother's Day and I mentioned getting alone time and getting a massage, and basically taking some time off from normal mom stuff. When I was met with a sarcastic "well aren't you Mother of the Year" from a male co-worker.

So clearly I must be missing something. We see it as a day to rejuvenate the mom. To take the day off and to relax a little. While other's want to soak up their babies even more and squish them all day, and not leave their side.

What I'm realizing is we're all in different phases. My mom doesn't have her babies home with her anymore--so she wants to be with us. Some of the momma's may work during the week, and spending a full day with their kid's by their side is a luxury. Some may stay home and still want to spend the whole day on mother's day doing the mom-thing. While others, (coughMe) are knee deep in mom stuff all week and thrive off a little alone time and pampering. There is nothing wrong with any of these...it's like telling someone they celebrate Christmas the wrong way just because it's different from you, right?

and you know what? It's OK. I will continue to celebrate Mother's Day in the way that feeds my soul. I just learned my lesson this year... I'll leave my phone at home.



***

How do you 'do' Mother's day? I'm curious to see what school of thought you all subscribe to.  Let's chat.


Monday, May 12, 2014

Emeline's Birthday Party-Firehouse Style.

This year, Emeline asked for a birthday party at the firehouse. She visits there with her Pop Pop (my dad) a lot, and she knows they throw a good party.  I was all for it, cuz honestly, it's kind of easy. Entertainment is already provided. You basically bring the decorations and the food, and that's it. I was looking for short and simple this year, as I really kind of dread party planning as it is. This ended up being pretty perfect and every kid had an amazing time.

So here are some of the details in photos--and at the end, a short little video of the day that really just shows what a blast it was!

First, the invitation. I made it in picmonkey, for free--and printed on my printer for her preschool friends. I was even super lazy and emailed them to family members and other friends because I just didn't feel like getting envelopes and going the whole nine yards. Lame, I know-but it worked.


Second, I kept decor simple, yet fun. Bright colors--lots of yellow, red, turquoise, pink--you name it. I wanted there to bright, vibrant colors that appealed to everyone. Also, balloons were a simple way to add to it and make it more birthday'ey. Yes, that's a word.

the firehouse provides the fire hats & gift bags!

We served pizza, chips, veggies & fruit---simple, simple.

I set up a little craft table for the kids. I printed out some firehouse themed coloring sheets and got some easy foam-sticker art stuff. In between playing on the trucks like crazy, the kids would get their craft-on and had something to take home.


The cake was made by The Kake Lady-- a local friend who rocks my face off every time with her amazing creations.


It was PERFECT. I told her I didn't want firetrucks on it--and somehow needed blue incorporated. She did so great. People raved about it's looks and also it's taste. So good.

The little presentation that the fire department puts on for the kids is really fun. It's also pretty short, but it's totally humorous and the kids go wild for the Sparky dog and Freddie the Firetruck. It teaches them a little fire safety, but mostly it's just all fun and games and singing to the birthday girl.



We ended with some more birthday singing--and took all the presents home to have her open once she calmed down a tad from the sugar rush.

(ha. yea right. that didn't ever happen.)


Overall, it went just right. Just the right amount of time. Just the right amount of decorations. Just the right amount of people. On her exact birthday. It was everything she wanted and so I'd call the 4th birthday a complete and total success.

***

Video: (don't worry, it's short :) )

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