Friday, November 9, 2018

Evolution of a Parent, thrice over.

I took the iPads away.

Let me back up. I have three kids. They're 10, 8 and 3. I have three kids but I only know how to be one kind of parent. See, with the 'big kids' I parented them the same. They were both little at the same time and the same kind of discipline worked for both of them. It's your basic 'I say no, you don't do it' type of discipline. And if you do it, you land in time out and you sit there and don't move. Time outs evolve as they get older into losing dessert for a week or God forbid, Xbox. But you get the point. And they listened, they still do. I would say 95% of the the time my big kids followed directions and didn't break the rules. That's the parent I know how to be. And I'm damn good at it. I'm in control and I call the shots and you live a great life within my parameters.

Enter kid #3. She was the easiest baby. Happy to be dragged around, slept well, nursed well. But now, what she doesn't do so well is listen. In particular, listen to me. At school she follows directions, plays well with others, listens to her teacher. Dance class, same. For Daddy, she mostly listens. For me? Not so much. And I created this problem.

She's the third and I'm busy. I'm juggling 5 people's schedules and trying to run a household and a photography business and have some semblance of a life. And she gets the short end. She gets pacified (sometimes literally with a pacifier but that's a post for another day). I hand her the iPad and let Ryan's Toy Reviews entertain her so I can do all the other things. It's not parenting. It's survival. But it results in massive, epic, awful meltdowns when I need her to do something. And then I yell. And then she yells. And then she's in time out where she tries to stand up 100 times in 3 minutes.

It's not working. This one type of parent that I have perfected over the last decade is not the right parent for her. I have to evolve. I have to be better. For her. For me. For all of us.

It's a hard thing to admit in such a public space that one of your kids isn't getting the attention she needs and deserves from you. But here I am.

I'm three and a half days in to being more present. To paying more attention. I'm not yelling. I'm not responding when a fit starts (even though on the inside there is literally a volcano erupting). And it is HARD. Not giving in, not yelling, not reacting is HARD. But my reaction, my parenting standard, doesn't work. So I'm fighting every instinct I have, every natural reaction.

And I took the iPad away. I took everyone's iPads away because they don't need them right now. And it's a crutch for me. So instead of watching Ryan sing 'Happy Birthday' to someone for the thousandth time, she's helping me make dinner. Or we are coloring. Or we are watching a TV show, together.

All of this must sound so obvious. Of course you should pay attention to all of your kids. Of course you should be present. Of course you shouldn't use the iPad as a babysitter. What's wrong with you woman? I was a perfect parent until I became one. And when you know better, you do better. So this is me, being challenged, tested, and fighting the good fight. And trying to do better.

Am I delusional enough to think that my 3 year old won't still melt down or that she'll listen 100% of the time from now on? Hell to the no. But I know that what I was doing (yelling, forcing, blaming, shaming) was not working and it's time for a new path.

Monday, January 1, 2018

on 2018.

I don't do 'resolutions' per se. But I do like to reflect. I like to take a look at what has been and maybe make some corrections of errors. 

2017 was fine. That's how I treated it. Fine. Everyone was fine. Things were fine. And that was a choice I made. 

2018 needs to be better than 'fine'. So, here's the plan:
I will worry less about things I can't control.
I will relax more.
I will cut myself some slack (as a parent and a human). 
I will make more time for the people who mean the most to me. I will make less time for those who don't.
I'm not going to do things (that I don't have to do...) that don't bring me joy. So, I'l keep packing lunches and wiping asses, but I'm not running any 5ks because I hate running 5ks (and 10ks and anything that resembles a race), as an example. 
I'm going to drink more Kombucha and lift heavier weights. And stretch. And stand up straight. 
I'm going to keep fighting the good fight trying to not raise assholes and make them eat vegetables all at the same time. 
And I'm going to write more. And rest more. And laugh more. And breathe more. 
And have more parties.
I want to go on more adventures and worry less about schedules and routines and where we're 'supposed' to be. 

This journey isn't a long one and I don't want to look back and think another year was 'fine'. 

Thanks for the memories 2017. There are some really amazing, fabulous ones. I'll hold onto those forever and let the rest of your 'fine' self go. 

On to a new year. A new chapter. My arms are open wide. 

Happy New Year, friends! Cheers!

Don't get me wrong, we are luckier than we deserve and have a wonderful life. Just want to improve upon things I can change from within. <3 i="">

Monday, November 20, 2017

I suck at being still.

The surgery was quick. About an hour. In all we were at the hospital for about 8 hours. It really wasn't a big deal. The pain was, at it's highest, a 6 on a scale of 10. There was some burning when I woke up, nausea, grogginess. For a day or two it was hard to move around. I had lower abdomen pain, things felt like they were shifting. The gas pain was the worst part; in my stomach, in my chest, all the way around my shoulders. They fill you with air when they do laparoscopic surgery and they can't suck all the air out before they close you up. Hence, the gas.

Joining my stretch marks and stretched out belly skin are two one inch scars roughly where I assume my Fallopian tubes used to be. The other incision is inside my belly button. Welcome to the belly party ladies. My swim suit modeling career is probably over.

Now is the hard part. I'm four days post op. When I wake up, I feel totally normal. I have almost no pain. What pain I have feels like muscle soreness which isn't a big deal. So I get up, I get the kids ready, throw dishes in the dishwasher, do some laundry. I suck at being still. So this is me trying to be still. By the time I realized I've done too much, it's too late. So, here I go. Being still. Reading Love Warrior and watching TV. Not doing the pushups or squats I want to do or heading to the grocery store to get Thanksgiving feast ingredients.

The feast will get made and we will be extra thankful this year. Thankful that my mom is here to celebrate with us; last year we were pretty sure she wouldn't be. We'll be thankful for peace of mind. That thanks to doctors and insurance and resources we have a peace of mind knowing that my risk of ovarian cancer is now much less than it was four days ago.

People told me before the surgery that I was 'brave'. I really don't see it as brave. I mean sure, I wasn't that worried about the surgery, but that's only because I'm no stranger to pain and surgery. I see it as lucky. I am so lucky that I GOT to take this step. That I GOT to take care of my future self. That I GOT to take hold of my own preventative care. Everyone should be so lucky. And so thankful.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

'tis the season.

To everything there is a season.

I like white lights. Little white lights. Not the LED kind cause they're too blue. Small white lights. No twinkling required. I'd like them carefully wrapped around our royal palms so it looks like you're pulling into a fancy hotel. I'd like the lights also neatly attached to our roofline so the house's facade is outlined in them. The bushes should be evenly coated in white, tastefully so, of course. For the front door I prefer a full garland with gorgeous satin ribbon and the aforementioned white lights. Really anything that looks like the front of a Grandin Road or Ballard Designs catalog would be perfect. A tree should sit on either side of the front door, decorated like the garland. And a door mat, monogrammed with holiday wishes for our holiday visitors to wipe their feet on as they enter. I'd like that.

To everything there is a season. 

Here's the thing. I'm not in the season of a perfectly decorated, straight off the pages of a magazine, holiday home. And I won't be for a while. A perfectly decorated home with perfectly wrapped trees and magnificent garland isn't my here and now. Know what my kids think of white lights? They think they're boring. And they're right. And thankfully their Dad knows white lights are boring and predictable. While I sit here, he's outside up on a ladder a la Clark W. Griswold Jr., creating the perfect holiday home. There are white lights and green ones and red ones. There are lights that change from red to blue to green. The lights are different sizes and won't ever blink together. A six and a half foot tall Santa will hang from a window ledge and one of those star fall shower light things will project lights all over the house.  Don't forget the light up reindeer grazing off to the side. And the spot lights that will only enhance the holiday splendor that will be our home for the next month. 

If it sounds amazing it's because it is. Right now Christmas is magic. It's wonder and lights and joy and fun. I have years of Christmas decorating when my kids won't look up from their phones for long enough to even appreciate the lights and I can have the catalog house. There will be so many holidays where no one gets excited for a house covered in lights (white or otherwise) and we have to drag them out to pick out the perfect tree. But right now? Right now, they want it to look like Christmas threw up on our house. And they're going to get it. Because it's a season of life; our current season. And it will be over in a blink. 

While we're on the topic of seasons... 
I'm also not in a season where all of my house is ever clean or neat at the same time. If the living room is clean the kitchen is a disaster. If one bathroom is clean the other has toothpaste on the mirror and is out of toilet paper.
This season 60% of my meals are eaten standing up. I'm certain this burns more calories because goodness knows I'm not eating organic, gluten free, hormone free, free range chicken over a bed of organic greens with homemade organic citrus vinaigrette for lunch. It's more like 'oh, kid 3 didn't finish that PB&J, I'll just wolf that down and chase it with a piece of cheese for added protein'. 
I wear real clothes (things that have buttons) maybe twice a week in this season of life. Some of this is by choice because buttons are stupid, but also, it's hot where we live and when I'm barefoot chasing a barefoot two year old down the street, my Paige denim doesn't move like my active wear does. 
I don't pee or shower alone. 
I rarely read because by the time I can sit down and read I'm too tired to keep my eyes open. 
My car is actually a trashcan. 
If my kids get one serving of fruit and one of vegetables a day I've done a really good job. 
This season we eat 80% of our meals on paper and use paper towels as napkins (don't tell me they aren't).
But this season isn't all bad. In fact it's mostly wonderful.  I have big(ger) kids learning the world and a small one with a giant personality. We laugh and we play and for the most part, we are pretty care free. And also, I know it's not permanent.

I know for certain I will miss it when it's gone. I know I will long for the days where I collapse at the end of the day with Mac and cheese in my hair and can't remember when I last showered. I will pine for the days when the kids fight over who gets to sit next to me on the couch even though at least one of the three has been touching me literally all day long. And I will even miss the tantrums so epic I think our windows may shatter at the sound of the screams. So for this season, I'm embracing it and all of its un-showered, under nourished, utter chaos. And who knows, maybe I'll fall in love with the colored lights after all. 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017


Won't happen to me. I mean it could happen to me. Actually the odds aren't in my favor and it could very likely happen to me.

I'm 36. I'm healthy. In pretty good shape. Take care of myself. This is going to sound dramatic but, cancer doesn't care. 

My Mom is a cancer survivor. Twice over. Once breast, once ovarian. If you know anything about ovarian cancer (which we didn't until September 23, 2016) it's silent. It gives you no indication that it's there, shows up on absolutely no tests. Nothing. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

So I have one degree of separation (maybe if it's my mom it's less than one degree, have to ask Kevin Bacon) from a genetically linked disease that is the fifth leading cause of death for women. For most women, ovarian cancer doesn't end well because by the time they find it, it's too late. So I have two options, I can wait and see or I can take charge of my health. I'm not very patient. I'm not a 'wait and see' kind of gal. I'm taking charge. 

After consulting with my OB/GYN, a gynecological oncologist, and the doctors my mom has seen in the last year, we've set a date for the first steps. I don't think I will miss my Fallopian tubes when they're gone (the surgery is called a Salpingectomy for those keeping score at home). Because doctors now think a lot of ovarian cancer originates there, I'm good with letting them go. The surgery is minor and I get to lay in bed for a couple of days so it's basically a vacation.

Starting Friday, I will get an ultrasound and a blood test done every three months for forever. And in 5-10 years I'll be writing about a full hysterectomy and everything that comes with it.

It's a lot to take in in a day. But this is what prevention looks like for me.

I'm pretty sure both of my grandmothers are rolling over in their graves while I put all my business out on the interwebs. They would have sooner died than talk about their lady parts in person or on the internet. But not talking about these things doesn't get us anywhere. Silence prevents nothing. So I'm talking. I'm sharing my journey because it's part of me and who I am and if one person reads it and thinks 'huh... maybe I should look into xyz' then it's worth it. Plus, hoo-ha, vagina, uterus, ovaries, Fallopian tubes, they're fun words to type.

I was curious why the computer autocorrected my spelling of Fallopian tubes and always capitalized the F. Well... they're named after an Italian anatomist who first described them... his name is Gabriello Fallopio. He died in 1562. The more you know.