Thursday, May 29, 2014

Hands Free Mama

I got this book for a very specific purpose. A purpose I won't let myself be ashamed of, because I know I am far from alone in this. Let me tell you I felt compelled to write this as soon as I finished it. I needed this. Badly. 

This book was written by an inspiring woman named Rachel Stafford. She runs a blog called Hands Free Mama. If you haven't checked it out you should head that way. Every now and then a post of hers would make it's way into my news feed and I'd read it and go on a guilt trip for a week or two. So when I saw that she had a book coming out I felt like it was something I needed to read.

The book talks a lot about busy schedules, the need for perfection, and daily distractions like your phone. I don't have a busy schedule. I cut that out at the beginning of the year and haven't looked back. So while I did read those parts I didn't feel like that was my issue of distraction. I am far from a perfectionist. If you could see my living room right now it could attest to this fact. Letting the toys lie in order to do something else is not a problem of mine. No, I got this book specifically the distractions of this day and age. 

Let me say I'm not alone in my house on this. We are both on our phones and Molly's love of all things iPad is just depressing. I know it could be worse, but I also know that could be an excuse. I get torn between feeling like I can't sit and stare at you all day and we should be doing more because hey I'm here. We're not the family that you always hear referenced that's at a restaurant and we are all nose deep in our electronic devices. We don't take them out at a restaurant. I don't spend every second on it either, but I do think it's too much. 

Almost every day monday through friday I edit a session. So that's two hours at the computer a day. I also return emails (which I'm terrible at). Let's give that 20 minutes a day. Those are things that have to be done. What I struggle with is the boredom. Ok stay at home moms burn me at the stake, but yes. 

I am not a Pinterest mom. Art activities take like 20 minutes so then what. Even my kids get bored of playing with me after a little while. I couldn't even begin to say what is harder between staying at home or working. I think they are both really hard. I can say that I feel like one of the things that is hard about staying at home is the pressure to be some super mom. Awesome lunches, planned activities, cleaning in check, crafts everywhere. 

find here 

So what I would like to improve is this. Being more present. Letting go of being irritated. Not letting my daughter use distractions to make things easier. Getting out. Living in the moment. 
I think I have my strong points. There were things in the book that I feel like I do well with. Then there were things that hit so close to home it was hard to read. 

I have already started to make changes since I started the book. If I'm editing it's ok to stop and go back to it later. If my kids want me to see something or be apart of something walking away and going back is worth it. I've started to turn the radio off in the car. Instead we talk. Every night we have a cuddling session before bed. This past memorial weekend I got up and was present. I played. I kept conversations going. This week we've been to the pool twice. I want this summer to be full of experiences and I want to be 100% involved in those experiences. We've decided on Thursday evenings we will have no phones and no TV. Our first time was tonight and it was awesome. 

Things I want to improve are us all eating at the table. I have always been huge on that and I've had enough of me saying well when they are older and it really matters. It matters now. Seriously limiting iPad time. It's not Molly's iPad, but really it pretty much is. Sometimes I secretly hope it breaks, but really I should be teaching her how to find a balance. The trouble is I need to teach myself that too. Not sure what the limit will be. Maybe an hour a day? A reward system? I want to start shutting down my computer after I finish a session. I also want to shut off notifications on my phone and leave it in the kitchen. No more checking it because I can't even sit through a commercial break. Along those lines less TV in general. Background noise can be a life saver, but we could use more of our dance mix. 

I don't want to spend the next four years of my kids being home just sitting around. Sure we go places. We make things. But the balance is not there. Of course nobody is perfect. Doing this won't make me perfect either, but it's a damn good start. I need to stop complaining about the world we live in today and start making changes within myself. 

I will say this. When I get done having good quality time with my girls I fill like my heart is full. When I finally sit my phone down I fill empty and regretful for the time lost. I want my heart full. I want to be present. I don't want to be irritable when my girls need me because really I know I'm failing. If you have felt those things too I strongly recommend this book as a place to start. You know a book has good information when there are bunny ears everywhere. 

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Weekend

This was a much needed weekend for us. With Adam closing out the books for his company and then starting the work on opening for the new owners he's been gone so much. So we wanted to make the most of the weekend, and I think we succeeded. 

To start off, Friday my sister kept the girls and we went to see X Men. So so good. I am a huge X Men fan. Like did my college power point presentation on it. Hey, the teacher said it could be anything. I used to own all the movies, but when I was poor and living on my own I sold them all to a used movie store for grocery money. Sad. Afterwards we went out for drinks. We haven't been on a date in about a year. Not because we are against leaving our kids, but because the time has seriously flown by.  Being able to talk without a million interruptions felt so foreign. We took full advantage and had a great talk about where our future was heading. 

Saturday was a total lazy day. I can't even remember what we did besides watch Lost. When Sunday rolled around I had to do something different. Having a Netflix marathon was not how I envisioned the weekend. So we threw together a quick party with our family. The kids had a blast. I bought a two pack of these Styrofoam squirters for like $4 and they were a hit. A little bit of a regret for the adults, but the kids loved them. It was time well spent. I've been reading a book about being more present in today's age. I really felt like I took time to be with my girls and play at their level. I left with my heart filling full and it was a great start to making this change. Definitely fueled my fire for wanting to do more for my girls. 

My sister was telling us about their plans to camp indoors that night. So of course when we got home we had to do the same. Natalie was already asleep from our drive home around the block. Adam set up a tent in the living room and I threw in a flash light and some blankets. The plan was to sleep in there but it didn't happen. There was no way Molly was going to sleep in there when we were too busy watching out for bears and monsters. She cracks me up when she is pretending now. All of a sudden she has these super dramatic acting skills. Her faces just crack me up. 

On Memorial Day we didn't have anything planned either. Adam used the last of the paper towels and Molly cam running in asking to make a snake. A couple months ago I told her we were going to make a snake the next day. Then me being me it didn't happen till a month later. She loved it. Who knew painting a toilet paper roll would be so much fun. So now any time we finish one she wants to paint it. This one turned out to be a spy glass. Natalie wanted to dig in and help so bad but instead she just wiped up the table. Molly kept telling her "This isn't food baby, it paint. You can't paint you not older." 

Then we headed outside to play. Natalie just wanted to walk around picking flowers. It's her favorite thing to do. I sat down with her and made one of those flower crowns you make as a little girl. I'm rusty! 

Adam was doing yard work. Our house has a million and one issues right now. We just had the foundation fixed and the yard was so torn up. So he was working to plant grass seed. Way back when we went to a conference from the guy that wrote the love languages. Adam's was acts of service. So while I was sitting in the shade I asked if he wanted me to help. Together we finished the yard. Which seriously sucked, but was fun to do together. I could see how much he appreciated it and it felt good. To thank me he got pizza for dinner and my favorite brownie. 

We found that we have complete opposite love languages. Which is something that has really changed our relationship. Sometimes it's hard to show love in a way that is so different from the way you feel loved, but it felt so good. 

While all this fun happened and it was a great weekend we can't forget what the weekend is all about. I am so thankful to all the men and women who have given their lives for our freedoms. My heart is with all their families as they grieve the loss of their loved ones. Especially during this time. 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Molly Now

It occurred to me recently that I haven't wrote much about how Molly is doing. (or anything for that matter.) There has definitely been plenty of change and thankfully it's in a good direction.

Molly no longer has issues with Pica. Pica being classified as eating non food items for a period longer than a month. She rarely eats something. Recently chap stick. I have caught her in cat things a couple times recently. That is really it. She doesn't try to eat the bubbles while washing hands or any of the other things. We don't talk about it. I haven't told her good job or anything. My worry is that she may think hey let me prove my mom wrong and be a turd and eat that. This is coming from eating non food items multiple times a day with a struggle over the removal of those items. So this is what I'm happiest to report.

As far as sensory issues we still struggle. Bath time and tooth brushing is still a nightmare. We have come up with a pretty good way to rinse hair though. I just need a towel right there in order for her to wipe her eyes each rinse even though her head is back. I think for her even if the water isn't in her eyes she gets panicked that it will be. Brushing teeth is just the worse part of the day. I say this and I think a lot of parents would say well most kids don't like brushing their teeth. Issues with sensory is different. It's not a refusal to brush or them beating around the bush to do it. It's screaming in pain, crying, thrashing around. It appears to us that she truly does feel like it is painful. I don't know if there is also a panic in something she can't control or feeling a gagging feeling. At this age she is too young to tell us. I do look forward to a day when she can communicate with us what she feels when things seem to throw her in a panic. Until then when we can't truly understand what she feels we try to be understanding and calm.

Another good step forward is that during the time when things seemed really worrisome and we sought help she did a lot of spacing out. She seemed to shut down and stare off when she was nervous. Mainly when there was a lot of people around.

Several things seemed to have changed with her. Most of the time I'm just thankful, but sometimes it makes me wonder. Why did it start in the first place or was I seeing what I thought I was? It just seems strange.

I started writing this post a week or so ago and never hit publish. Maybe because I just don't know what to think about it so I don't really know what to say. It's all still very weird to me. I know kids go through stages and funks even. Maybe that's just that, but to go from so much concern even from her doctor to several of the behaviors being done with no reason why they started feels odd.

However she did go to the doctor today for something unrelated and he mentioned how she was doing and if things were better. I explained all of this but I also mentioned something that has come back up. Something she was doing at the time only not as often and the behavior has morphed some. He seemed concerned which surprised me. I know it's not something that would be considered normal but without the pica I figured it was nothing. He is referring us again to children's mercy. I won't go out of my way to get her in as soon as possible. I won't even look for other places. If the wait is like the last time we could be looking at six months even till she is seen. I think I'm just surprised he referred her, but I trust his opinion and whatever we need to do we will do.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

What We've Been Doing Lately

These past couple months have felt so busy. I'm not sure why because they have consisted of a whole lot of nothing. I guess time is just passing by to quickly. In two short months we will have a three year old. I really can't wait. From one to two was pretty difficult with Molly. The first part of two got a little better, but the bad times were oh so bad. Of course she is no angel, but we have been in this really good grove for awhile now. The hard times are few and far between. Still those hard times can be hell.

Three can bring it on though. I'm excited for a preschooler. I love this little kid she has become and so does she. She has always been pretty independent. I can brag on that. Hey she can't count and I know your kid is counting to 500 and knows x, y, z, but this girl does her own thing. She's not one of those kids that you lose it when they say they want to do it themselves, because generally she does it well. It's nice. It makes me rethink having three kids. Being at this point with Natalie would be insane. What do you do with yourself? Besides open up a million more mothering issues.

We tried out kiwi crate. It was fun. Molly got excited over it. Especially the cape. Well only the cape. The other things were a little commit ball and a mask. Those have already been thrown away. Mind you this was two months ago. We didn't renew the subscription. Maybe some other time. She absolutely loves this cape though. 

Awhile back I took a page out of Parent magazine. It had this clay jewelry craft. Molly found it one day and carried it around for a week. She kept talking about doing it and showing everyone. So I finally made it to the store and we bought all the stuff to do it. The steps held her interest. She loved it. Surprisingly it's held up and we still have it. 

Easter was awesome. After having a Christmas that was kind of overwhelming for Molly it was nice to see them happy and running around. The whole day was just relaxing. Natalie was definitely always contest since food was always in arms reach. 

We have been having a lot of movie nights around here. Don't let the couple of crafts fool you. We are a movie watching house. I don't claim to be no screens till 10 around here. So for some special time for the girls we play Molly's movie pick. I can imagine sister fights on this some day in the near future. For now Nat is just excited about the popcorn. So we have our movie night popcorn bowl that they know right away. We lay out blankets and eat and watch a movie. It's fun and easy. And yes that is Natalie covered in chocolate. 

If you don't have this bad boy, get it. It's the best $10 I've ever spent. It's a baking play dough set. Just so many minutes of complete concentration. We never did play dough at home growing up. My grandma was in the mind set of I'm not cleaning that shit up. When Molly asks to do it I run to get it. For no noble reasons. Just the fact that I want her to sit still for like 10 minutes. 

My nephew turned 3! I still can't believe how fast these years have gone by. He is just so sweet. Being around him is so different especially now. Every day we see the boy in him and the girl in her. When I taught preschool there most often times were those differences in boys and girls and as they got older they became more apparent. We are at that point with them. Still the best of friends and more like siblings. It is such an awesome bond to see. 

We made a bird house. Well I kind of helped. She painted over all of mine. I am not a super crafty pinterest person. So buying a constructed bird house and some paint is something I can handle. I struggle between feeling like we should do more and accepting that that just isn't me. 

The most exciting thing of what we've been doing lately is me becoming an aunt again in October! I am so excited. Molly and Aiden are like whatever. Sometimes he's excited other times he denies a baby will be coming home with them. As it gets closer and he gets older he seems to be more and more excited. I can't wait to love on a little baby that I don't wake up with in the night!

Thursday, May 1, 2014


Every parent of either a boy or girl has a list of moments that they dread will inevitably happen. Yesterday we hit one of those times. 

I was in the kitchen when molly came in and handed me my chap stick. It was half gone. Most of it on her lips the rest probably in her belly. Gotta love her. She really has been over that lately. Any way I take it so she won't use up any more and she starts to cry. "I need that back!" I ask her why and her response just breaks my heart. "Because I need to be perfect!" Seriously. She then continues "I need to be perfect like Anna!" (Frozen reference though I'm sure 99% of mom's got that)

Where on earth did she even get this idea of perfect or that she wasn't that. Or the idea that make up would make her so. Or that Anna is perfect? Just a million things run through my mind. Who even knows if I handled it right. A more tactful mom than me maybe.

Anyway I just replied you don't need make up to be perfect. Anna doesn't wear make up.  Nobody is perfect. Since she is 2 the subject changed pretty fast but I can't help but wonder where the hell that came from?

It's easy to blame TV and maybe it was. I don't think I use the word perfect?  Especially in that context. In my list of gushings over my daughters the word perfect isn't in there. I sure as heck don't say it about myself. At the same time I have tried so hard to really watch what I say about myself in front of her. To me it just seems like such a random thought for a 2 year old. The idea of perfection or that make up obtains it or that someone else is perfect. Someone she admires. 

Make up is fun. More fun for people who know how to use it. For me it's about acne and not looking half dead more than it is smoky eyes and all that. I put on full make up for church and out of town outings. The 4 get together with friends each year. Other than that it's concealer and bronzer.  Dressing up and doing your make up should be fun not crucial to feeling like you meet a standard. If it's not fun for you than you shouldn't do it at all. When I put on a little make up to leave the house it doesn't make me feel closer to perfect. It makes me feel good for myself not for the benefit of others. I've never been one of the girls that can't leave home without it. So maybe that's why I'm so caught off guard. This isn't what she sees yet she still knows it. 

So dearest girls as you some day read this. Since my intentions are to print this so that in times like these you can read these words and know it's from my heart. You can cut through the rambling and over analyzing to this.  You will never be perfect because no one is perfect. You can strive to be the best that you can be. You can have the insight to know what you need to improve and the drive to do it. The worse thing you can do is chase the illusion of perfection whether it is personal or physical. Another terrible thing would be for you to believe that being perfect requires you to be anything besides who you are.