Love Yourself First

14 Feb img_0467-2

Today is Valentine’s Day.  An expensive Hallmark holiday that requires significant others buying trivial gifts of flowers or jewelry, kids exchanging sugar and cartoon character greetings, and then you have the people who are single who are doing their best to just get through the day.

Why do we make ourselves crazy crafting the perfect gift, posting flowers (I’m so guilty of this by the way too, but flowers from my husband are few and far between.  We laughed that the last time he gave me Gerber daisies was when we found out I was pregnant with the youngest.  Thankfully, this was NOT a celebratory gift).

The most important person to love.

Is YOU.

We spend our lives trying to please others, comparing ourselves on social media and looking at our own lives thinking it’s not enough, we should do more.

Now that I agree with. Do more.  Do more self-love and self-care.  I challenge each and every single one of you to do one thing a day for you.  Not for your family, not for your coworkers or your boss, or your parents, for your partner, just for you.

It’s called self-care.  And self-care is a vital tool for creating inner peace and happiness.  For years I chased happiness too, thinking that others would make me happy, that I needed to compete with the PTO moms out there that seem to have every single thing perfect in their lives.  I sometimes feel like the only mom who forgets their kid’s shoes for school or runs out of pull-ups because I haven’t made it to the store.  Or who makes toast for breakfast because I just don’t have the energy to do something better before coffee.

But I’m learning this self-love thing. Yesterday I bought new shoes for myself to wear as the average of twenty flights of stairs a day had my feet sore and swollen by the end of the day.  So I bought new ones to support my feet better.  And slip-on, because who wants to re-lace shoes during the day?  I felt incredibly guilty spending more on my shoes than I spent on shoes and clothes for my daughters.  But my health and well-being is also important.

I went for a walk even though I didn’t want to, because exercise makes me feel good.

I added a few chocolate chips to my steel cut oats with flaxseed that I’m trying to learn to love.  Because I don’t love the oatmeal yet, but I do love chocolate.  Instead of a bag, a few works too.


Self-care for me is taking time to read my book for Book Club.  Writing this blog as well as my “work” pieces.  And remembering to write purely for fun.

So today, on this holiday of love, remember who you should love the most.  Yourself.  Give yourself a gift.  Take time for you.

Things that Make me Go “Hmmm”

13 Feb img_0449-1

Living with others, whether it’s a roommate, your parents, your children or spouse there are always odd little quirks about the other person or people you don’t understand.  I’m sure I have a few, considering I blew through a few roommates in the college dorms I probably had more than a few.

But in this house with my kids, husband and pets there are plenty of things I question on a daily basis.

1.  When she claims most socks hurt, but she’s worn a hole through the favorite pair and somehow the hole doesn’t hurt…

2.  How Elsa’s castle was somehow taken over by a bear and the cast of Inside Out… I call it the Bear in the High Castle.

3.  Why doesn’t dirty laundry make it in front of the washer when the washer is literally on the other side of the door that is usually open…


4.  Speaking of laundry, how are there levels of dirtiness?  And if it’s on the floor doesn’t that increase the level?


5. Why do we need to use Mom’s chapstick or lip gloss when this is your collection…


6.  When do you officially have enough beads to wear?


7.  Why is it so challenging to change the toilet paper roll?  (Guess which bathroom I don’t use)…


8.  Because I’m not innocent in this oddness thing, why do we need three pairs of shoes that are essentially the same?


(That one I can defend by saying the black pair is a quick and neutral running errands shoe, the turquoise are great for the first 30 minutes and then they get too tight, and the pair on my feet are my indoor supportive slippers. And they’re Sketchers.  They are comfortable.)

We wouldn’t be who we are without our quirks. And differences are what make us beautiful.  So I might scratch my head and wonder why when I see any of these things, but it works somehow.

Who Says I’m not Social?

8 Feb img_0387-1

Hi.  My name is Michelle.  And I am an Introvert.

And I’m okay with that.  It doesn’t mean I don’t like people.  I enjoy gatherings as long as they’re not insanely long.  I’d prefer it if I at least knew a person or two, but I will go to places or events alone.  And if you didn’t know me you may not suspect I am an introvert.  I have random conversations in the supermarket, such as last week when the cashier at Piggly Wiggly and I realized that she and I used to live in the same hometown many years ago.  My teenager does not appreciate it if I laugh or chat with someone in a store, and I am a magnet for babies.  I’m sorry, I’m totally the weird woman smiling at your baby, but I promise I won’t touch them or give them my germs.  I just think they’re adorable and considering they smile back, they think I am too.

Becoming a stay-at-home mom/writer means that I spend my afternoons by myself unless I go out in public. Most days I’d rather use the time to write, so I spend quality time with myself.  Sometimes I read, usually I’m typing on the laptop and my pets wander in and out.  The dog is a great writing companion as he is happy being lazy and flopping at my feet.


But even still, other than Facebook, texting with my family or friends it’s pretty quiet.  And I sometimes become that crazy cat lady.  My son’s cat rarely leaves the comfort of his room down in our basement.  It smells like him (Old Spice Swagger and dirty socks would not be my scent of choice, but it suits her) and the dog and his sisters rarely go down there.  Her food, water, and litter box is down there.  Why would she want to leave?

So I antagonize her.  Because I just needed a bit of socialization and scratch her head which makes her purr back, then meow loudly when I stop.  However, judging by her face she doesn’t appreciate the fact that I tried to snuggle in for a selfie.


I continue to slowly meet new people in town and eventually will make some friends.  I socialize with the other moms during the youngest’s gymnastics class and chat when I’m at one of the schools for one reason or another, but making friends seems more challenging as an adult than as a child.  My youngest especially will take about two minutes to size up another child and deem them friend worthy.  Then again, she is an extrovert.  She looks to others to recharge.  Usually that’s me, so I’m grateful that I have this time to myself to type on my laptop and take crazy photos with the animals.  In approximately two and a half hours life with “Why does the dog wear a collar, but the cats don’t?,” “Why does Barbie have yellow hair most of the time, but sometimes it’s pink, purple or brown?,” or “Why doesn’t Curious George have a tail?.”  In case you haven’t guessed, my youngest is in the why stage.  While it is incredibly adorable and I certainly promote curiosity, it is exhausting for us introverts.  We are specifically prepping her for the reminder that when we go to the theater to see The Lego Batman movie there will be no asking questions during the movie.

But, yes, I like snuggling with her, and I love catching up with old friends, meeting new people, but I also cannot function as well without the time in the afternoon when all I have are sleeping animals and Amazon Prime music playing the background music.

To the Mother I Met at the Mall

2 Feb

I have a distant memory of you.  I know it was a cold winter day where the temperature was too frigid to bundle up my toddler and let him play in the yard, but he needed activity to keep from running laps down the small outlets of our hallway.  Neither my carpet nor my patience could handle the jumping off furniture.

I remember standing in the middle of the mall by the play area, holding my baby girl close to as she was still so fragile, tiny and ill pre-heart surgery days only a few months old.  I can picture her on my shoulder, petite frame and giant blue eyes watching the world as I watched my son run on the gym mats and climb on foam filled play equipment.  I already had a container of disinfecting wet wipes open by the stroller, already considering how to clean his hands and mine after his sister was strapped back in her stroller.  I remember the faint rainbow pattern of the stain glassed pattern through the ceiling windows of the mall, the sound of the elevator music over the speakers and the murmur of costumers walking and running their errands.

But I don’t remember your face.  I remember you coming to me with tear filled eyes, your eyes barely moving from my daughter’s soft and beautiful face to meet mine.  I’m sure I tucked her closer then, because I always did with her.  I was always anxious and fearful of an illness that could take away my daughter before we allowed her heart to grow big enough for the surgeons to repair the hole in it.  I’m sure that I was still contemplating whether the fun of the play area was worth the exposure to those germs.

You paused before you spoke.  As a mother I could feel the heartache when you shakily told me that this was the day you had lost your daughter.  You told me her name and that she had been beautiful and loving and kind.  And you were struggling today with the pain, the heartache, the loss.  I saw you had a small support system that was quietly waiting behind you.  And as my own eyes filled with tears you shared that our daughters both had an extra chromosome.  And that you knew seeing my dark haired, blue eyed girl was your daughter telling her that she was okay.  And you smiled, even though you hurt.  You said that seeing my girl was her daughter’s way of telling her that she was okay and still watching her.

I no longer remember what I replied.  Again, I no longer remember your face.  But I remember holding your heartache in my heart as I kissed the soft hair of my baby girl.  You left then and even though I know I had been terrified to bring my daughter to that play area that day I never regretted it that day.  Because we were meant to be there.

To you, dear Mom who lost your daughter with Down Syndrome, I have never forgotten you in the last nine years.  I have never forgotten how you admired my little girl as I always view her myself—seeing and loving those extra quirks of her flatter face and small nose, her beautiful blue eyes set far apart in a head that was then too large for her body.  I think of you nearly daily. I can only imagine what your girl looked like, but I know how much you love her.  And I’m thankful that you gave me that moment to remind this young, scared mother that sometimes you just need to stop and be grateful for the moments you have.  I can only wish that time eased your pain, but a mother should never lose someone that was literally a piece of themselves at one time.

The Secret to Happiness 

25 Jan img_0237-2

is simple.


Actually in winter that is the secret.  Yesterday our sidewalks were clear and so were the roads.  My dog and I set out on an adventure through town to refill the Little Free Library.  I rummaged through our home library, sifted out some books (trust me, we aren’t lacking in this house) and filled my bag.  If you’re lucky you get the free bookmark and note of kindness I stuffed in one.  

Then we came home and I wrote in the recliner.  And he napped on the couch.  With the fireplace on.  Because, well, because we have one.  And it makes us this cozy.  


I needed to do errands, but I chose the fireplace and my laptop. And my peace and quiet lasted longer.  It meant sacrificing a solo Target run.  

Was the Target run with the Caroline’s Cart full of a 65 pound 9 year old and her bear diving after chips, soda and Inside Out underwear worth it?  (I skipped the soda, but the others made it in the cart).  It was worth it.  Even when the five year old kicked me because she was angry she didn’t get to ride in the cart (again, sorry, but there’s maybe 3 double kid semi carts-they are always in use).  Still worth it when we did the self checkout because there was one poor cashier during shift change with 6 carts waiting ahead of us.  Still worth it when the youngest told me it was “so embarrassing” to wait for Mommy to scan our cart full of juice, Pull Ups, and the other necessities that somehow got placed in the cart.  

Definitely worth it.  

Today was a snow day, so I’m even more thankful I took that time to do only what I wanted in quiet.  As many inches of snow had my youngest asking at 7 am in her Anna voice “Do you wanna build a snowman?”  (No, coffee).

“Do you wanna build a snowman?” (No, I’m washing your sister’s bedding).

“Do you wanna build a snowman?” (No, I’m still trying to find that pair of pants you borrowed at school the other day.)

“Do you wanna build a snowman?” (Sighs.  Maybe it will be fun.) 

“Yes, let’s go build a snowman.”

So even though I hate winter.   Hate snow.  And hate cold, we went outside.  I bundled up in my warmest pants, hat and running gloves (thinking clearly I am not a winter outdoors woman), and fake Uggs because I have no idea where my real winter boots are in the house even though we’ve lived here for 3 months.

We built a snowman.  And laughed.  And searched the ground for rocks.  Discovered we only have baby carrots.  We hugged and took silly selfies.  

I didn’t want to.  But happiness is unexpected sometimes.  It’s found when you give to others.  In a book.  In the memory of building a snowman.  In the much needed and messy hot chocolate afterwards.  

But now that my toes, hands and especially my butt is cold I’m going to sit in front of the fireplace.  And look, the dog added to my happiness too;) 


I got extra kisses by the fireplace.  Happiness really is a warm butt.  And books.  And snowmen.  Especially snowmen.

Strength 

18 Jan


Love, joy, relief.  But mostly grateful.

This photo popped up in my Facebook newsfeed the other day and I smiled.  I’m sure many of you readers can smile at the simple beauty of this picture.  My kids are showing off their own beauty and that smile my youngest is giving is priceless.  You can see the protective and loving nature of my son.  

But to me, I see how healthy they look.  For that is what I am grateful for.  

This photo was taken four months after my son’s diagnosis with Type 1 Diabetes.  Here he has gained back the weight he lost, can sleep through the night again and even though he’s still in a crazy new world of injections and finger pokes he feels good.  Strong again.

His sister’s cheeks are pink.  There’s no blue in her toes or fingers, she’s round and soft and plump.  She’s got the bright red zipper scar in her chest as she had just healed from open heart surgery.  Instead of me waking her to eat, she awakes herself and cries for food.  And she has the strength again to play, eat, grow.  Her first few months weren’t quite as simple.

I smile because I remember the strength it took every single day for us to survive those months prior when our heads were in a world of terror thinking we could lose on of our children.  I can still feel my head on my husband’s shoulder as the operating team pushed my little baby girl out to surgery.  His hand in mine when we crash coursed how to give insulin injections and carb ratios.

We were all so strong then.  We still are.  We still fight diabetes daily.  I still panic a little when I see my girl catch a cold and wonder if it will be pneumonia.

But there is strength in our family.  We love.  We battle.  We play.  And I’m relieved we are where we are.  And even in the worst moments we can still smile and laugh and hug.  

The Terrible Necessity of Socks in Winter

7 Jan

The temperature is below zero.  There’s snow/ice/shice on the ground (for those of you who don’t live in an area that regularly gets snow shice means shitty ice, a hybrid of dirt and ice and rocks and whatever other garbage is hidden under the snow.  That’s only one of many words to describe snow). Unless the temperature is below zero kids bundle up like a mummy (remember the scene in A Christmas Story where he can’t put his arms down and is wrapped in scarves?  Truth.) and play outside in the tundra.  I’m not sure what they’re allowed to do anymore in order to be a safe environment.  My girls do one thing- swing.  The little does work on a snow mountain built by the older students at her 4K site.  

But unless you want your feet to look like this:


Socks are a necessity. (So is tucking your snowpants over your boots to keep snow from piling in there).  They keep your boots and shoes from smelling raunchy (sweaty feet?  Ewwww).  

My girls hate socks.  My daughter with Down Syndrome pulls them off and discards them the instant she walks in the door.  (When she was younger we had to put tights on under her pants to keep the socks from being flung in the back of our minivan).  Most socks are uncomfortable for her too, though she’s seemed to settle for athletic no-shows.  Still I find piles like this showing me where she’s been.

My youngest has become more of a challenge than her sister when it comes to socks.  For a time every single day when it came to putting socks on we went through this lovely experience.

Why?  Because her socks hurt.

We have tried pretty much every single pack of socks out there.  Bobby socks, socks with Disney Princesses, Super Hero socks so she can dress like Wonder Woman!, the same athletic socks her sister tolerates (even new those weren’t hers, they were her sister’s), the soft fireplace socks, and even a search on Amazon to buy seamless socks.  Every pair meant a tantrum.

Until we discovered the bow socks in her drawer.

I sneak them in the laundry when it’s bath time.  I don’t make her wear socks on quick outings, but finally the sock sensory battle has lessened.  Mommy doesn’t have to sit on the garage step trying to breathe as the little one screams inside.  I don’t have to carry her to the bus because she won’t get up because her feet hurt in her socks.  It’s currently okay.

I hope this pair doesn’t get lost….