Living in the moment

photo-172

Do you ever feel like you spend so much time taking pictures that you forget to actually enjoy the moment?  I do.

I love having a photo for every little thing.  On a stressful day or during a lonely moment, these photos remind me of every moment of greatness that my kids bring into my life.  They remind me to just be.

But the constant picture taking makes it hard to appreciate the moment that is actually happening right before me while I’m busy thinking about the lighting or smiles or silly faces.

In the past couple of months, I’ve made a huge effort to decrease tech time on the weekends.  The constant input from my beloved iPhone often drives me batty – and a frustrating exchange about a work situation a few weekends ago reminded me that I don’t need to answer every email/text/Facebook message just because other people want me to.  There was a time when people couldn’t reach me so easily, and part of me wants to return to that time.

But a funny thing happened as I was learning to set the iPhone to DND and let the clients, freelance projects, and just about everything else wait…I realized that I enjoy every little thing a little bit more when I’m not busy to trying to document it so that I can remember it at a later date.

Pictures might remind us of moments, but we carry our memories in our hearts.

Please stop by moonfrye to read about the importance of letting go of the pictures so that we can create memories

Embracing the Ordinary

photo-135  This is what six years old looks like…

I sit by the edge of the bathtub, resting my chin on my arm as I watch them melt into complete relaxation following a day of play and curiosity.

Night after night we work our way through the same routine.

While Sweet Girl sings softly to herself, my Sweet Boy busies himself with his car wash.  Even as night falls, there is still work to do.

Steam rises from the warm water, creating the perfect place to draw with nothing but a fingertip.

Look, Mommy, I can draw a flower.  AND…I wrote my name.

She loves to draw, this sweet girl of mine.  Anytime.  Anywhere.

Look at that, Sweet Girl.  Art is everywhere.

She smiles for a moment as she meets my gaze, then quickly gets back to work.

You didn’t wash my hair, Mommy.  Did you forget?

I reach out to graze her cheek, lost in thoughts of gratitude and heartache.

No, Sweet Girl, I didn’t forget.  I just wanted to give you time to play.

No need to rush.  Not now.  Not ever.  Why was there ever a need to rush?

I’m ready to get out now, Mommy.

My sweet boy breaks my trance with thoughts of the ordinary.  He wants his routine.  He wants his schedule.  He wants pajamas, playtime, and a story.

And so we get back to our routine…

We make our way to my bed.  Bedtime nears, but there is still milk, Curious George, and a story or two left in our day.

Sweet Girl snuggles into me, the weight of entwined legs pushing her toward final relaxation, as I slowly comb her beautiful chestnut hair.  I fight back tears as I kiss her for each tangle.

I get to comb her hair tonight, I think to myself as the sound of their giggles brings me back to the present.

I get to snuggle them up, read their favorite Christmas books, and help them sink into an innocent slumber. 

Wrapped in warmth and love and heartache we read just a little bit extra.

And then we make our way to their bedrooms.

I rock my sweet boy and whisper his I love yous, holding him just a little too tight.  He relaxes into my arms and heaves the sigh of a day well lived.

Nothing in this world will ever be more important to me than you and Sweet Girl.  Remember that always, sweet baby boy.  You are my everything.

I know, Mommy.  I love you ten million times too.

With that, he snuggles into his bed before blowing me one last kiss.

Hold onto that kiss, Mommy.

My heart swells and hurts and threatens to burst.

I get to put my baby to bed…

Standing in the doorway, I watch my sweet girl for a moment or two as she colors with intensity on her bed.

I don’t worry when I color.  It relaxes me.

Barely six years old, and she already knows how to cope.

Hey Sweet Girl, it’s time. 

I know, Mommy.  Just one more thing; ok?

No need to rush.  Not now.  Not ever.  Why was there ever a need to rush?

I dim the lights, lie beside her bed, reach up for her hand, and tell her a relaxing story.  Together we fall off into a world of dreams.

I sit and watch her breathe just a little bit more before quietly making my way to the hallway.

I get to put my big girl to bed…

I get to hold her hand…

My heart races as I close the door, leaving it open just a crack.

In a fog, I find my way back to my room and collapse on my bed as the sobs finally escape.

I cry for the parents, who have empty beds and broken hearts.

I cry for the siblings, who lost a best friend.

I cry for the elves that won’t be found and the candles that won’t be lit.

I cry for the hearts that will never be healed.

And I cry for the little faces that lived out their final moments in fear…

I get to put my babies to bed.  I get to hold them tight.  I get to bathe them, put them in pajamas, comb their hair, and read their stories.  I get to do the ordinary.

With hiccups and sobs and prayers and anger I beg for a different outcome.  I cry out to start the day again and bring those families back together.

Hours later, as I finally accept defeat, I allow myself to move the elf.  With hands shaking and tears pouring from my exhausted eyes, I go about doing the ordinary.

In the morning, the kids will climb into our bed, chitchat with us as we wake, and then race off to find Elfie.  They will inhale pumpkin waffles, engage us in play, and ask to read 17 stories.

And my husband and I will link hands, memorize these moments, and simply embrace the ordinary.

Because we can.  And…because we should.

Sending love and prayers and tears and heartache to Connecticut.  May you one day find some version of ordinary again.

Project Happy: A Date with My Boy

I’ve been under a bit of stress lately.  I’ve been working on a big dream, a really big dream, and I’m so very close to it…but not quite there.  I’ve put countless hours and hard work into it.  At this point, I’ve done all that I can do.  It’s no longer in my hands.

And so I have to wait.

As it turns out, I’m not as patient as I could be.  I’m patient with my kids, I’m patient with other people’s kids, I’m patient with a lot of things…but I appear to lack patience when it comes to waiting for good news.

And…I am faced with accepting the fact that the good news I’ve worked so hard to earn might not actually come my way.  That’s hard.

I try to focus on other things.  I play with my kids, I see my clients, and I enjoy as many small moments as possible.  But for the past few days, I’ve found myself checking my email far too often…feeling deflated when the one email I want to see simply isn’t there.

It was beginning to consume me…

So today I took a break.  Today Liam and I had a very calm and soul-soothing morning at the beach.  The sky was perfectly blue.  The waves crashed down in perfect time.  Apart from a few shell seekers and the riders on the bike path, the beach was empty.

We sat back and looked out toward the ocean, counting the boats in the water and the pelicans flying by…

We played construction site and found a pretty shell for Riley…

And we stood at the edge of the shore, squealing in unison when the waves caught up to us…

 

It was magic.

And as much as I hope that my big dream comes true sometime soon…it felt really good to just focus on the happy.

 

Project Happy: Project Me

It’s no big secret that I haven’t been blogging much lately.  The truth is that, by night, I’ve been buried under an enormous project that means the world to me.  But that’s another story for another day.

By day, I’ve been enjoying countless small moments with my little ones.  We haven’t necessarily been on any huge summer adventures, but we have enjoyed a summer of relaxation and little adventures.

Just a little #ShadowDays fun!

I’ve also spent the summer making sure that I’m meeting my owns need too.  I’m eating healthy foods, working out every morning (instead of my usual 8pm workout), and putting a lot less sugar in my coffee.  I know, I can’t believe that one either.  The result?  I feel great.  I’m happy, healthy, and as rested as I can be when buried under the previously mentioned enormous project.

But…I feel the summer slipping away.  And that means that Kindergarten is right around the corner for me sweet little Riley.

I’m not nervous for her to go.  She’s ready and I know she will thrive.  But I will miss her terribly.  And that makes it hard.  The tears are already flowing…that’s all I will say about that (because, honestly, I won’t get through this post if I keep thinking about it).

Anyway, the break from blogging coupled with the summer of small adventures has been good for my soul.  I’ve always put my kids before everything:  Work, blogging, exercise, you name it.  And I always will.  That’s just who I am.  But spending my nights writing-writing-writing began to wear on me.  I wasn’t taking time for me.  I was tired, cranky, and staying up entirely too late.

And I just don’t want to spend my daytime hours writing.  I fought long and hard to have these kids, and I don’t ever want to look back and say that I missed something important or didn’t spend enough time playing because I had to write a blog post.  For free.  Because this?  Is a hobby, not a job.

So I took a little break.  And I will continue this much slower pace for while…because this week we are going on vacation!

My Kindle is loaded.  My laundry is done.  I’m packing my new favorite shoes…

Which, apparently, are also Riley’s new favorite shoes.  Sigh.  Already it starts.

 

And I am taking a break.  Sure, you’ll see the usual weekly posts (maybe, if I find time to write them), and probably a few pictures from paradise.  But the parenting advice?  That will have to wait.

I sincerely hope you’ll hang in there and find me when I return…

Thanks, as always, for being a part of Practical Parenting.

Because of all of you, I end up on lovely lists like this one over at Circle of Moms.

What made you happy this week?

 

Magical Moments

At times, I fall into the trap.  I start to plan adventures in my mind.  I try to coordinate all of the little day trips that we rarely get to take because my husband isn’t known for taking days off.

 

I think in terms of family days…

 

We should get to the zoo before it gets too hot…

 

We should see the new penguins at the Aquarium…the day the exhibit opens…

 

We should get to the car museum, the art museum, the dinosaur exhibit, and the butterfly pavilion….

 

We get motivated early, pack our lunches, and head out the door before most people have finished their morning coffee.

 

We intend to make the most of this precious family day.

 

And, for the most part, we do.  Until the meltdowns start.  Because baby boy is only 3, and really needs his nap.  And big girl has zillions of allergies and can’t eat out much…butreally wants that grilled cheese at the museum café.

 

And so we quietly make our exit, discussing the amazing and interesting things we saw.  We play games along the way home to keep everyone awake and engaged (because a ten minute car nap is never, ever enough)…

 

Name that truck…

 

How many trees can you count?…

 

Let’s find cars for each color of the rainbow (purple stumps us, every time)…

 

At last we arrive home, have some rest time, and regroup.

 

And then we decide to just play in the backyard for the afternoon.  We had a busy morning…we would rather just stick close to home….

 

Please stop by Mommy Moment to see where we find the magic in family time.

Unnecessary Stresses

The dark circles under my eyes reveal the stress that I try so hard to conceal during the daylight hours.

 

Sadly, no amount of concealer can erase night after night of lost sleep.

 

I wish I could blame teething, nighttime fears, or bedwetting.  But this time, it’s all me.

 

By day I am bright eyed and energized, but when darkness falls the stress creeps in.

 

By night, the worries expand in size and prevent uninterrupted sleep.

 

The to-do list multiplies by the second.

 

The inbox suddenly overflows with messages left unanswered.

 

The dread of my husband’s very long summer away weighs heavily on my mind.  Not because I can’t do it alone.  I most certainly can.  But right now, I just don’t want to.

 

I read until my eyes tire.

 

I label my worries to get them out and think in gratitude as I drift off.

 

But inevitably, 4am arrives and I wake with a start.

 

Did I ever RSVP to that evite?

 

Did I pick up the medicine from sweet girl’s preschool?

 

Did I get that present in the mail?  Because that, I will hear about.  That has to be on time…

 

Do I have enough milk for one more day?

 

Should I tell the kids today?  Is it time to prepare them for a summer without Daddy?

 

Have I been a good enough mother this week?

 

Have I been a good enough wife?

 

Just like that, 4 becomes 6 and the kids will soon rise.  I take a few deep breaths and close my eyes for just a few moments more…

 

Please stop by moonfrye to continue reading this post.

Every Little Thing

Every little thing matters.

 

The big things often threaten to take over.  The asthma attacks, the allergies, the sprained knees, and the strangers coming into our home and taking our things…

 

Those things feel enormous in the moment, because they are.  They are all encompassing.  They require attention, focus, action, and sometimes even a call to 911.

 

As if experienced through the rearview mirror, those things feel larger than they actually are.

 

Those things seemlike they might eventually come to define us.  But they won’t.

 

Because, at the end of the day, those things are just experiences.  They are just moments, stressful moments, that occur during the day.

 

My daughter is not just the girl with allergies, asthma, and croup that she just can’t seem to outgrow.

 

My son is not just the boy who sprains his knee over and over again.

 

We are not simply the family who left the window open and then got robbed.

 

Those are just experiences.  They are things that happened along the way.  Some of those things will happen again.  Others won’t (we hope).  Either way, they are just experiences.

 

Every little thing matters….

 

Please stop by moonfrye to continue reading about the little things.

Little Things

They run free, the wind blowing their hair upright, daring me to try to keep up as they make their way down the path the runs behind the baseball diamond.  Their screeches and high-pitched laugher most likely heard all over our cozy little beach town.

Although I can’t see their facial expressions from twenty feet behind, I can feel their smiles extended from ear to ear.

A mother just knows these things, after all.

With their lists clutched tight in one hand and small buckets in the other, they race to find the first item on their lists.

We are off on one of our favorite morning activities:  Nature Hunt.

Together we search out sticks, rocks, interesting leaves, and coins fallen from pockets and left behind.  We look for wood chips, flowers, and pinecones.

“Down the hill”, yells sweet boy as he changes course in search of a flower.  “Wait!  We have to roll”, declares sweet girl, knowing that rolling is far more exciting then running.

The nature hunt will have to wait as we roll and roll and roll again.

These moments should not be rushed…

Please stop by moonfrye to continue reading about the little things that make us pause.

Project Happy Week 7

The more time I spend focusing on the small moments of happiness each day, the more I realize that these small moments are absolutely everywhere!  It’s hard to record them when I’m so busy enjoying them…which is a very good thing.

Flowers blooming just a little bit early, the perfect latte made in the comfort of my own home, afternoons spent playing with our friends next door, a trip to the Pet Store that caused Liam to declare, “I love this special time with you”, and a nice home cooked dinner with my husband (who finally, finally took a day off).

And those new markers in the giant marker bin?  Those brought such happiness to my little ones, you would have thought that they had finally found a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

We got back to doing our early morning pajama walks, which are often difficult when school is in session, and the kids were thrilled to be out in the early morning sunshine.  We walked and talked and collected beans….it was heaven.

Riley really enjoys making videos.  She recently started doing some “how to” videos, I think in response to videos posted on this site.  This video on “how to have good manners at a fancy dinner party” made my week.  Cutest thing ever.  Truly.  Enjoy!

Inspired by a funny Liam quote, I asked the Practical Parenting Facebook community to start sending in a Friday Funny: A quote, picture, or video of one of your children that made you laugh during the week.  I promised to share my favorite of the week in my Project Happy post.  It’s a good one…hope you enjoy it too!

Sent in by Narrell B.: Mr 6 and his brother had been playing in my car. I was cross so sent them to their room while I collected myself. When I went in there, I told them quite sternly that it was not safe, nor okay for them to play there, and they weren’t to do it again. Mr 6 raised his hand and said quite dramatically, “Testify!”

To send in your Friday Funny, please join our Facebook Community!