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Balancing Life

21 Mar

 When my youngest is at gymnastics I sit on a cold metal folding chair and I watch her on the balance beam.  I can see the determination in her face and see her arms out as she wobbles a bit, then catches herself a step in and refocuses.  Now and then she slips.  But most of the time, she catches herself off-balance and continues on.  Her teacher follows a step behind when she is on the high beam, allowing her to find her own strength and balance, but there in case she were to freeze or fall.  

I balance all the time.  I wobble more than she does when I walk.  I haven’t worn heels since I fell in them and cracked my elbow.  I’m still not sure why it’s called the funny bone.  I balance in my running shoes now.  Between keeping my house clean and spending my much-needed free time exercising and writing.  Staying in to watch another episode of Caillou with a five year old on my lap or going to a Yelp Event with a friend.  Going out on a date with my husband, or catching up on the sleep I miss throughout the week.  Between researching more services we need and just going to Culver’s and eating ice cream.

Some days I balance better than others.  Some days I can smile, I can laugh, I can make those phone calls and doctor appointments easily.  Some days all I can picture is a potential hospital visit for a child and my “fight or flight” response kicks in.  I freeze.  I stare at the neon Post It list of “stuff” I need to accomplish and push my chair away from my desk.  I find my blue running shoes and go pound the path with the steady rythym of my steps. Or I put in headphones and go hunting for my favorite feel-good songs and crumple into the feels of those songs.  Or I open the pages of a book and immerse myself in someone else’s life for awhile.  I feel the clinking of my bracelets reminding me of everything.


But then I refocus and I make those phone calls, I schedule visits with specialists, I ask for help and spend six hours in my van to steal a night away with my husband where I can dress up and feel like the fifteen year old girl he asked out years ago.  I can wear a fiery red dress and heels and feel my legs ache from the hill I walked a few hours before.  I can fill my tub with hot water and turn on the jets, closing my eyes for a few minutes just listening to the pounding of the water.  

I might not be graceful always on my walk.  I might sometimes close my own eyes and repeat the Serenity Prayer or look at my bracelets for inspiration.  I might text someone close to me for just a single boost.  But I continue.  And I make it.  I wobble, I catch myself.  I feel my family and friends a step behind, ready to hold their arms up if I need them.  

But just like she does I continue.  Because that’s what I do.  I breathe.  And repeat.

Love Yourself First

14 Feb

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

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.

The Secret to HappinessĀ 

25 Jan

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.

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….

Why I won’t make a New Year’s Resolution this year

3 Jan

My Facebook feed has been clogged with well-meaning souls who pledge to be healthier, lose weight, write daily, learn a new language, and (one of my favorites) to not yell at my kids so much.

Resolutions are made with excellent intentions.  New Year.  New start.  It’s your life and you can start new and fresh.  It’s very appealing.  I enjoy seeing all the fitness clothes or free weights on sale at stores.  Heck, I almost looked at them myself at Target until I saw the aisle was cluttered with women and I had the giant cart and 2/3 of my kids with.  The giant cart barely made it through the aisles to pick up the necessary paper towels and cat litter.  I maneuvered it through the kids section trying to replace the too-big furry Trolls vest.  Thank God, that kid settled for a Batgirl necklace instead.

So, no, I won’t make a resolution to lose weight this year (even though I have spare pounds). I won’t say I pledge to write daily (even though I like the thought of that).  I also won’t say I pledge to work out daily (even though I’m close to that on good weeks).

Why? Because it’s rare that resolutions are fulfilled.  I have days that I’m pretty dang happy if I do a few loads of laundry or put on clothes other than yoga pants (that I don’t do yoga in). 

I will not say I need to write thirty minutes a day or 100 words a day.  

Why?  Because of failure.  I will not allow myself to consider missing a workout, leaving my laptop shut, or eating pizza for dinner is failure.

Most people can move on and say “no big deal, I’ll catch up tomorrow.” If a crap day happens I find myself curled up on top of my sea blue striped quilt bed staring at the beach pictures on my wall.  Some days are just really hard and I can’t add one more thing to the pile.

I will do my best to be healthier, be kinder to myself and others, but I will not make a resolution to declare that.  If I declared 2017 the year I do _______, I might lose myself in that process.  Being me and being happier is more important to me than what I can check off a list.  I’d rather live my days one moment at a time.  If it’s a workout day-awesome!  I’ll feel great that night.  If it’s a cleaning day, the house will smell of lemons and there will be less pet fur on the couch.  If it’s a writing day I will have cramped hands and I’ll have to hoist myself out of my office chair like an old woman.  Compression socks only help the blood flow to a point after all.

But if I have a day where the kids and I have been changed, fed and medicated-that’s a win.  Even if the rest of it is spent eating popcorn, drinking water (or my vice- Diet Mountain Dew!) and watching Netflix while scratching the dog.  

We don’t need a New Year’s Resolution to add stress to our lives.  At least I don’t.  I don’t want to add one more thing to the to-do list.  In fact, I might just toss that to-do list in the garbage.  Tomorrow the recycling truck can add it to the Christmas gift blowup that became my garage (the drawback of hosting).

This year I vow nothing.  But I’m aiming for love.  And I’m starting with myself.

The Gift of Friendship

15 Dec

My older daughter never had play dates unless it was for her sister (or me).  Birthday parties were family and family friends.  Only once did we get one from school and that was from her school bestie in the special education room with her.  It was wonderful to be there, but it saddens me that she never really had friends.  

I was reminded of this as my youngest came home with a birthday party invitation.  Every day she asks “when do we go there?  We are going to the party, right?”  While I say, of course, and I’m grateful for the friends she has made at her new school.  At the same time I’m wondering how her sister will feel at home while we go to a party without her.  Trust me, I know she will enjoy her time.  She’ll probably be watching movies on her Kindle, throwing things at the fireplace or rearranging.

  And I wonder if her sister has friends at school.  I know she enjoys lunch with classmates daily.  The kids volunteer to eat lunch with her in her classroom.  And her teacher writes that sometimes Nyssa gets silly or just enjoys her peers.  That sounds like her. She loves laughing especially if there is physical comedy involved.

But I wasn’t sure that was friendship.  Until I opened a large mannila envelope from her third grade teacher today.  I didn’t think twice.  As a special needs parent I get IEPs, test results, and the like.  I know her new staff is testing new communication devices with her and expected some kind of paperwork to fill out.

Instead out poured notes of love from Nyssa’s classmates.

I sobbed at the sight of child-like drawings and the sweet spelling of these words.  One friend drew some of their favorite things: biking (even though she can’t bike yet), McDonald’s, dressing up, swimming, and the swings.

In fact, most of them mentioned the swings, the place she loves the most when she’s outside.


She makes them laugh.  They enjoy being with her.  They hope she loves them too. 


Friendship means love and laughter.  It means kindness and the ability to love someone for their strengths and their weaknesses.  My girl might not tell me about her day.  Or all about her friends at school.  She might not tell me who she was playing with on the playground or who she had lunch with, but she has friends.  

And for that I am grateful.