Thursday, December 31, 2009

NYE: Toddler Style

Ring around the rosie,

A pocket full of posies,

Ashes! Ashes!

We all fall down!


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Pulling Up

"I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing."
~Agatha Christie

Step 1: Take a shower.

Step 2: Make an appointment for a cut and color. (I did say I wanted to be a blonde again, right?)

Step 3: Throw disappointments out the window. All of them. Especially the disappointments about people. I am not perfect, and neither is anyone else.

Step 4: Breathe.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Christmas Sob Story

I think I'm in HELL.

Those of you who read my other blog might have read this recent post. It was all about how excited I was for Christmas, how it's my favorite time of year, how it's so magical through the eyes of a child.


We picked up Miles from daycare on Wednesday (Christmas Eve Eve) only to learn that 3 kids were out sick with the stomach flu.


One hour later Miles threw up.


Christmas Eve Day he seemed fine. We all seemed ok, except that I was getting a nasty cold (that Miles already had). I thought we were in the clear.

Christmas Eve: I felt fine at church, then somewhere in the 10 minute drive to my parents' house for Christmas dinner I started to feel really sick. I hardly ate anything (which I was grateful for later). Halfway through the gift opening I waived the white flag. I knew I was not well, so we went home.

To make a long story short, I spent more time hugging porcelain than hugging my family members this Christmas and I am NOT ok with that.

Christmas Day was even more fun because Grant hopped on the stomach flu train. He called my mom and she immediately came over and whisked Miles away. THANK GOD. We were both so weak and was not pretty.

And to top it all off I also have this raging cold with the super bad cough, sinus pain and all. And Miles has decided to be a HUGE pill today and basically cry and scream about everything. EVERYTHING. My parents said he was an angel for them: he never once cried or whined about anything, slept 12 hours straight, took a 3 1/2 hour nap, was happy and playing so nice the entire time. Then he comes home to us and is a totally different kid: he hits us, throw his toys, cries about everything and wakes up crying at 5:30 a.m. WTF.

Now my entire extended family is sick. My nephews, my aunt, my mom...and the rest are to follow.

Merry Christmas to us.

I am not going to start my gratitude journal until this is all over. As you can tell, I am a little bitter about all of this. Christmas cannot be recreated because my parents are snowbirds and are supposed to leave for Arizona tomorrow or Tuesday. Or whenever they are well enough to travel.

Generally I would not be so negative about all of this. I would just say such is life and roll with it. Being sick happens. But it ruined our Christmas. And because of that I am just so so so sad. Yes, this too shall pass. It could be worse. Blah blah blah. I know, I know. But for right now I am allowing myself to mourn this magical holiday that didn't happen for us.

You really learn who your friends are when you are having a rough time of it. The notes and emails from friends who were checking in with us these past few days have been really wonderful. Somehow just knowing there were good thoughts coming our way helped us tremendously. AND this has made me appreciate, once again, what a wonderful family we have. My parents didn't even think twice about helping us out, even though they knew they were exposing themselves to possible illness. That's love, I tell ya.

The next post will hopefully be much less Debbie Downer and way more Pollyanna Sunshine. Here's hoping...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

My Favorite Christmas Movies

What are your favorites???

Let the Truth Be Told, On Tuesday

Truth? For Today?

Today I feel frumpy. And dumpy. And lumpy.

I wish I would get carded once in a while but all my gray hair gives me away, I think. Or is it that haggard, tired look that I wear most days that does it?

What I wouldn't give to be called "Miss" at the grocery store again. Just once. "Ma'am" sounds so.dang.old.

New Year's Resolution #152: Get my @ss to the gym.

And I want to be a blonde again. I really do think they have more fun ;)

How's that for some Christmas spirit?? ha.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Let the Gratitude Begin

It's here! It's beautiful. I love it.

(And, wow, was that ever fast, Elissa!)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

I Won! And I'm So Grateful I Did.

I won something. Yep, I actually WON something. Happy day!

My new friend Elissa Elliott (talented author, captivating blogger, adoptive mom) had a little giveaway on her blog for two Gratitude Journals. And I am the lucky winner of one of those journals! Talk about gratitude!!! What a wonderful gift. Thank you, Elissa. I am grateful for you.

You will be hearing more about Elissa on All of the Above because, as I mentioned, she is a fabulous author. Her book is called Eve (coming out in paperback Dec. 29!) and she has graciously agreed to come to our February bookclub to talk about it! Again, SO grateful. It is sure to be a great discussion and I am really looking forward to it. I am in the middle of her book am loving it. Novelists have a gift that I certainly don't possess: a good novelist like Elissa can transport you to a different time and place...fully, completely. She does it with ease. I won't give my full book report here yet, but stay tuned!

Here is a New Year's Resolution: I resolve to write down 5 things that I am grateful for every day in my new journal. The first will be gratitude for the journal itself. Truly the gift that will keep on giving.

Anyone else want to start a gratitude journal with me?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I'd like to live as a poor man with lots of money. ~Pablo Picasso

I am reading this:

And Grant is reading this:

Can you tell what's on our minds lately?????

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Let the Truth Be Told, On Tuesday: In Defense of Barney

Truth: I am one of those moms (or one of "those" moms, depending on how you say it) who thinks that a little TV watching isn't so bad for my son. In fact, there are many valid reasons why I think it's good for him. I can tell you that Miles watches some "TV" every day.

Before you call child protective services, hear me out:

1) He doesn't watch hours and hours every single day. We don't plop him down in front of the TV and leave him there to stare at it for an entire morning or afternoon. That is sort of laughable to think about because for Miles to sit still for that long would take an act of God, anyway. But the point is that a little DVD action in the car or to calm him down before bedtime is not going to fry his brain. My mom is a dietitian (ret.) and her mantra about food is: Everything in moderation. I apply this to many parts of my life, including TV. We aren't excessive about it. We practice moderation. Sensible, yes?

2) We don't let him watch South Park. Or even Sponge Bob. In fact, we don't watch TV channels at all. We watch DVDs only. That way we can regulate what he sees, and we can also cut out the amount of commercials that he is exposed to. Our choices are relatively educational in nature: Elmo's World, Sesame Street, Little People, Go Diego Go and Barney are the only DVDs that we own. He l.o.v.e.s. Barney. And (here's another moment of truth) SO DO I. Here's my defense of Barney for all you hecklers out there: If you have a kid that likes music and likes to dance, Barney is the way to go. Miles does the actions to many of the songs and dances his little tushy off, too. Barney teaches manners, makes it fun to brush your teeth and teaches kids how to use their imaginations. What's so wrong with that? Barney is not the most annoying fictional kids character out there. Not by a long shot. Yes, the kids on Barney are unusually smiley and disarmingly happy. Yes, the songs might get stuck in your head. But by and large Barney pretty much tops my list as the best of the best. I approve.

3) DVDs can be super good for your child's learning. I firmly believe that some of the DVDs that we watch have improved Miles vocabulary and language skills. They have certainly gone a long way toward him starting to learn to count and say the alphabet.

4) We spend way more time reading books than we do watching DVDs. Enough said.

5) We watch the DVDs with him, and engage him in conversation about what he is seeing. We do not set him down in front of the TV and walk away. We sit with him, snuggle and sing along to the songs together. You can't tell me that isn't good 'quality time' spent. It truly is.

6) Sitting down to watch a DVD gives Miles the chance to focus and calm down in a world where he is usually running, running, running. Believe me, his activity level is a gift not a curse. But I think that having a variety of activities is good for all of us. It lengthens his attention span and helps to prepare him for a time when he might be required to sit for a greater period of time.

In summation (I feel like a lawyer giving closing arguments), I will defend Barney any day of the week and twice on Sunday. I am not putting all of this out there to actually be defensive about it (although I know I will get some who disagree with my philosophy, and I fully expect to get crucified for this). I put it out there because I think we are quick to condemn things that might actually not turn out to be so bad in the end. I know that some will site research on brain development and blah blah blah...if I had any reservation at all about Miles' development you can bet your Barney I would think twice before letting him watch. But he's fine. It's fine. And again, everything in moderation.

The truth, my friends, is now out there. ;)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Meet the Family

I realize that I have many new readers who might not follow my other blog, The Chronicles of Miles. So, I would like to introduce my family! We are Grant (the dada), Anne (that's me) and Miles (our 20 month old). We are a family of three formed through love and adoption. Here are some of the pics that didn't make the annual Christmas card this year, but that I still think are pretty great. ;)

Pics by Bliss Photography

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A World Full of Closed Doors?

Guilt. I have a lot of it in my life, but never quite to this degree. I am riddled with guilt over a decision that I made yesterday and it's slowly eating away at me. I need to unload this, somehow. I believe in my heart that I made the right decision. But...still...there's lingering guilt.

Let me set the scene:

I have mentioned before that I work in a small church. And when I say small I mean I am the only staff person besides the pastor(s). Often, I am the only person in the building. We have been the target of many crimes, including break-ins, in the past. The evidence of those break-ins can be seen on busted doorknobs and cabinets to this day. The police have told us, because of our relatively secluded location, we are a prime kidnapping site.

I keep the door locked if I am there by myself and open it only if I know the person on the other side.

That is, until yesterday...

From my office window I can see the parking lot, and around noon I spotted a car pulling up. My first instinct is to run to the door to let whoever it might be in. As the person approached I could see I didn't know him, but for some reason I didn't hesitate to open the door.

He started to plead his case: They were from out of town, had a sick daughter, had an appointment at the clinic later that afternoon, and needed a place to 'hang out' for a while. He said he thought a church might be willing to help them out.

My heart was, of course, breaking a little bit for his poor little girl (who I never saw...I never saw anyone but this lone man) and immediately put myself in their shoes. Asking for help at a church makes sense, right?


I told him that I was there alone (in retrospect I should NOT have said that, I know) and that I just didn't feel comfortable letting them in when I am here by myself. I explained that he looked like a very nice person but we have had a little trouble in the past and I am instructed by our 'church council' to keep the doors locked when I am here by myself. If one of the pastors were there, if anyone else would have been there, I would happily let them in. We do that frequently. (And on a side note: if they had ALL come to the door--his wife and daughter, too--I would have been much more likely to let them in. But I was facing a lone man who was much bigger than me. I didn't know if the others even existed...) I asked them if they could go to the clinic early and hang out in the waiting room? Or go to the mall? I even directed them to another VERY large church just down the road that could probably help them out more. The weather was good, beautiful in I felt like they could probably make it somewhere else close by.

I told him that this was a personal decision on my part and was in no way a reflection of the church. Call it a gut instinct, call it intuition...I just could not bring myself to let them in.

He was mad. And I think he had a right to be on some level. He said he wanted our phone number so he could call and complain about me to the pastors. Sure, I said, Here you go, and handed him the info.

Then, the worst part.

As he was walking away he angrily yelled, "You should really open up your heart a little more."

I felt like someone had just punched me in the gut. I felt nauseous. I questioned my decision. Did I do the right thing? If they were really in desperate and dire need and it was an emergency OF COURSE I would have helped them. But they were not. They needed a place to hang out. There are lots and lots of safe and warm and comfortable places to do that. Why drive to the edge of town to a tiny church up on a hill? It just didn't add up for me. I am not a cynic. I am not paranoid. I do not think people are inherently bad. In fact, I think they are inherently GOOD. But again, common sense told me that I had better be safe--or I might be sorry.

And with Christmas close at hand, the image of Mary and Joseph begging for a place to stay flashed through my mind. There was no room in the inn for them, either.

There's the guilt. Heavy, heavy guilt.

I believe the world would be a better place if strangers helped out strangers. I think there is far too little generosity and love for our neighbors. But in that instant, in that moment... I don't know. I just couldn't do it. It hurts me deeply that we live in a world where sometimes shutting the door is the best decision. I HATE that.

I work in a church, for God's sake. And I couldn't help them for fear of my personal safety. That doesn't sit well with me. At all.

I think I made the CORRECT decision, but was it RIGHT? Was it just?? Was it kind or fair??? I don't know.

Just yesterday I read an article about a man charged with attacking and sexually assaulting a 73 year old woman in a rural church. He just wanted a tour of the church because he said he liked churches. She was just trying to be nice. Who's to say that couldn't very easily happen to me? It could.

I read this article mere minutes after the stranger appeared at the church door. A sign from God? A validation of my decision? I don't know. And it doesn't really matter.

I guess all I can do is pray for that family, that they find healing for their daughter and that they don't find a world full of closed doors.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A New Look! Check It!

What do you think of the new blog look??? A huge thanks to my bloggy friend, Jenna, for hooking me up! We are still working on a few tweaks but the overall look is there. Check out her other work at Serendipity Designs. She rocks.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Cyber Monday, Naked Blogs and Two Movie Reviews

I have so many blog posts swimming around in the few brain cells I have left after this loooong weekend that I think I just need to purge a bit. Won't you come along for this random ride?

First of all, this weekend was awesome. Not only did we get tons of family time in but I also got to hang out with friends, too, which always makes me happy. And Miles was in a rock-star good mood for most of it. Most of it until he decided to turn into a pint-sized Godzilla yesterday and be a huge pill. But that's typical for him after being cooped up with us for a long time. I go stir-crazy, too. So, Monday and his new daycare friends came just in time. Whew!

Happy Cyber Monday everyone! Black Friday is not my cup of tea. Cyber Monday is definitely more my style. No waiting in lines, no screaming kids (and I mean my own), no crabby store workers, no chicken-fights for parking spots, ... I just get to sit on my ass and push buttons. Cyber Monday is the lazy woman's Black Friday. here I come.

I must excuse my obscenely naked blogs. It's vulgar, really. I promise to clothe them very soon. We (as in myself and my fabulous bloggy friend who is doing my dirty work for me) will reveal the new blog looks shortly!

SO, I have seen two movies this week. I know, how is that possible?? I have gone months and months without so much as stepping foot in a theater and now I have been there twice in one week. Making up for lost time, I guess?

New Moon: Loved it. Two thumbs up. Better than the first one. And guess what? I am temporarily on Team Jacob until, of course, Eclipse comes out. Those of us who have read the books know how it ends, and in the grand scheme of things I am Team Edward. But for right now I have jumped on the Team Jacob bandwagon because ... well, I just love him. And not because of his 6-pack abs and the fact that he spends most of the film shirtless. No, those things did not sway me (that much). It's the fact that he is so protective, so in love with Bella. He is so friggin' sweet to her. C'mon, you can't tell me that isn't endearing and sexy all at the same time. Edward isn't in this one much and when he is in a scene he is doing that brooding, unsmiling bit that kinda drives me batty. The books were good at revealing the other sides of this personality, like his wit and sense of humor. But the movies are void of much of that, which is too bad. You sometimes wonder if Bella and Edward ever just have a good laugh together, don't you? Anyway, Jacob's character steals the show, IMHO. There were some scenes that were laughably cheesy and I didn't really like the Volturi casting, especially little Dakota Fanning as Jane. She couldn't scare a bunny out of its hole. Seriously. But otherwise I thoroughly enjoyed it and am plotting to see it again before it leaves the theaters.

Seeing The Blind Side was a spontaneous event. Yes, I said spontaneous. (I haven't heard, said or even thought that word in so long I had to look up how to spell it.) A couple of friends (also with small children) called me at 8 p.m. Friday night and asked me if I would like to come to a late movie with them. HELL YES. So, thanks to two husbands who were willing to play along (the kids were sleeping, it's not that hard!) I ventured out way past my bedtime to see The Blind Side. Totally worth it! I didn't feel as emotionally connected to the characters as I thought I might so I used less tissues than I anticipated. But it was still an excellent film. I obviously could relate to many of the major themes of the movie (adoption, racism, trans-racial families) so I appreciated the messages for what they were--powerful and at times gut-wrenching portraits of what families have to go through and sacrifice for the love of their children. Adopted or not. I have been reading some reviews like this one and have taken those to heart, too. But overall I tend to think that The Blind Side is worth a viewing if you have time!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

You Bet Your "Bottom" Dollar, I'm Thankful!

This Thanksgiving I am thankful for many, many things: my wonderful son and husband, our amazing extended family and friends, our health, a toddler who takes long naps and sleeps through the night (I just jinxed it), the recovery of my dad after his triple bypass, the fact that I didn't actually get killed by lightning when it hit our house, insurance companies, etc...

But the thing I am most grateful for this week is something unexpected: I am grateful that Miles got booted from daycare. Our new daycare provider is truly a gift from God. She is infinitely patient with Miles. She is kind in her words to us at the end of the day ("We are working on sharing."). But the BEST thing about her is that she says things like "sit on your bottom" and "he had a BM". HA! I haven't heard that stuff since my mom used to say those things to us as kids. Ancient language in my book...but appropriate, nonetheless. We say butt and poop in our house. That's just how we roll. Poor Miles has naughty parents. Maybe she will teach him some manners.

All kidding aside, she is wonderful and the transition has been blessedly smooth. When we dropped him off that first day he just waved and said "bub bye" and that was that. Don't let the door hit you in the "bottom" on the way out, mama. Hmmm. Maybe this isn't going to be so hard?

Well, at about 1 p.m. when I knew he was going to be going down for a nap I had a breakdown of sorts. I had been anxious all day. I had even called once to check in. "Everything's fine." But then at naptime I pictured him looking for me, or anyone familiar really. I wondered if he would sleep ok in a brand new place. I thought about him waking up in that strange new place with all new people and being upset about it. And I thought about me not being there to comfort him, hold him, give him a kiss. OH THE TEARS. Mine, of course, not his. I sat at my desk and cried. I called Grant, and he didn't help any. He said he was missing him something awful, too, and thinking about him a lot. Crying harder now. So I emailed a friend and she said comforting things back...and then I collected myself. *sniff sniff*

Of course all of our worry was for nothing. He was fine. He had a pretty good day. Slept well and ate well. She said he screams when he is happy and we said "Really?" hee hee

So far so good.

The thing that is killing me softly, though, is that each day he asks for his old daycare friends. Ella bub-bye? Josh bub-bye? Cripes. That hurts. I know he will forget. Soon and very soon. But for now it's sort of heartbreaking. The memory of a 20 month old is a lot longer that one might think...

I hope that this time next year we will be able to say how thankful we are that Miles has had a good year at Sharon's. I hope, I hope, I hope.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! Let the overeating begin!!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I'm Honored

All of the Above has received its very first award! I say "first" hoping it won't be the last ;)

This award comes from my new friend over at The Girl Next Door Grows Up. Her blog is one that I want to emulate: it's funny, smart, honest, and the blog's got style! It's a lot to live up to. She has been so very kind and supportive of my new blog adventure, and I can't thank her enough for her advice and generosity.

Ok, enough gushing. On with the award.

One Lovely Blog Award

Link to the giver of the award.

Link to the nominees of the award.

Comment on the award winners' blogs to let them know you gave them the award.

Put the award on your blog post.

This lovely award is to be given to up to 15 you have newly discovered and, of course, think are just lovely!

I am inspired by (and frankly just jealous of) all of the fabulous blogs out there! Thanks for keeping the bar high and thanks for putting yourselves out there for all to read.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Why We Are In Love With Edward Cullen

I am Team Edward.

Now you know where I stand. ;)

If you have read the books (I have read them all--twice) or seen the movie (I've seen it, uh, let's say "more than once") you have an infatuation with Edward Cullen on some level. Admit it. He is the perfect man. It's not just Robert Pattinson's smoldering, other-worldly good looks. It's not how Stephenie Meyer wrote the character (let's face it--it's not high literature). But there's something about Edward.

Robert P. made an appearance at The Today Show this morning. I guess people had started lining up yesterday to get a glimpse of him. There were signs that read "I am in love with a fictional character". It's CRAZY. Even being a huge Twilight fan myself I still think all of the hoopla is over the top. Granted, I am going to see New Moon on Monday night with my bookclub (we read and discussed the books together) and I But I don't have my vampire teeth or Edward t-shirt lined up and ready to wear. I'm excited but I'm not that excited.

Why does Edward get us so hot and bothered? Let me try and tackle this one:

Why We Are In Love With Edward Cullen

1. He probably never has BO or bad breath. That's hot.

2. He never sleeps so that leaves more time for, ahem....other things. Enough said.

3. He is eternally ripped.

4. He always has time for you because, well, time is all he has. Attentive. That's also hot.

5. He has a gorgeous house and expensive cars.

6. He is wicked smart, polite, witty and uses proper grammar. Sexy.

7. He knows how to rock the hair gel.

8. He loves his family and is super protective of them. Endearing.

9. He can kick anyone's ass.

10. He is mysterious. Alluringly mysterious.

The fantasy is fun. But in the end would you really want to spend an eternity with a perfect man? Might get a bit boring. Unless, of course, you are perfect, too. But again: Boring. I am ok with MY perfect man. He not boring. And I got to marry him! Lucky me ;)

Any other Twilight fans out there? Do you have your tickets pre-purchased?? Are you Team Edward or Team Jacob, and why??? Just curious...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

My Own Personal Field of Dreams

Do you ever feel like you are on the verge of something big?

A friend of mine recently posed that question, and it struck a chord with me. A deep chord. Because the answer is a resounding YES! I constantly feel like there is something just around the corner, just around the next bend in the road, that will be huge and life-changing for me. Maybe it's a product of the adoption process. While you are waiting for your child it feels like your life could change at any moment. Because it can. And it does. And it DID.

But this feeling is a little different. It hits me mostly when I am at work. I feel like there is someone standing behind me (not in a creepy way), tapping me on the shoulder all day long, saying, "There are other things you should be doing! Why are you wasting your time? You shouldn't be here!" And then the inevitable question comes from me in response: "What am I supposed to be doing??" And then....silence.

Help a girl out here, I want to scream! Why is it that I constantly feel like I am destined for bigger and better things in my work life but I have no idea how to get there or even what that bigger and better destination might be?

I seriously feel like Kevin Kostner in Field of Dreams. I'm not hallucinating dead baseball players, thank God. But I do feel a longing for something I can't yet see. In that way it IS a whole lot like the adoption process. Your heart longs for a child you have never met. That isn't so crazy, is it? So why do I feel like I am going nuts here?

I think it's perfectly logical to have dreams and goals. And I have written about that a lot on this blog already. But this is different, somehow...

I envy people who have CLEAR goals and a vision for what they want to be when they grow up. I envy people who have definable skills, too. As a product of a liberal arts education I feel like I have missed out on the opportunity to have a specific skill set. Don't get me wrong, there are lots of great things about a liberal arts education. It's a well-rounded education, they say. But I often think that I might have been better off and saved my parents thousands of dollars by getting a 2-year technical degree. But no, I went with the expensive and, by and large, more general education. English writing major. Hmmmm. And now, I can do lots of things. Lots of things that don't get me the jobs I want or make the money that I am worth. I'm frustrated by my complete lack of professional focus. Can you tell??? ;)

More than anything I want to work for myself. Doesn't everybody? I will dare to keep dreaming that dream.

I feel like I am on the verge of something big. How about you?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Who Knew?

Can I just say...WOW. Sometimes I am amazed at how things turn out for the best. I am a big believer in the ever-gratuitous "Everything happens for a reason" mantra. But this takes the cake. I am one happy and grateful mama today.

I am happy to say that we have found a fabulous new daycare provider for Miles. Not only did we find this new person, we also found out that there are LOTS of fabulous daycare providers in our town, and in our neighborhood for that matter. Who knew? Joanie and Uncle kind of fell in our lap right after Miles was born and we never even looked to see what was out there. Boy, has Miles been missing out. I mean REALLY missing out. Crafts, Spanish lessons, music lessons??? What are those??? They didn't have those in 1876 when Joanie became a daycare provider. (Oops. Can you tell I'm still a little, shall we say, not over it?? Yep, still snarky.) I have always been a fan of in-home daycare but now I am a solid gold, card-carrying member of the In-home Daycare Fan Club. You would not believe the three wonderful and passionate and amazing women we interviewed last week. Holy crow, they have more patience, energy and love for kids in their pinkie finger than I do in my entire being. I bow down and worship these women for what they do every single day. I couldn't do it. It was truly a hard decision to make after seeing three places where I would feel perfectly comfortable taking Miles. I expected there to be a stinker in the bunch--but that is not the case at all. They were all loving, well-qualified caretakers.

But after lots of thought and discussion we decided that there was one place that felt the best to us. So that is where Miles will start on Monday! Hooray!

Thanks to a friend of ours, we found said Wonder Woman very near our home. You should have seen Grant and I last night when we called Sharon to tell her we would like Miles to come to her daycare. We were practically giddy. We had just put Miles to bed and then raced downstairs to call her. I can't tell you what a relief it was to hear her say that she would LOVE to have Miles. I hope she knows what she is getting into ;)

I have to admit in the midst of being excited about this new situation for Miles, there is a small part of me who is still pessimistic. I am gun-shy now. I think there will be a part of me waiting for the other shoe to drop, for that grim phone call that says come and pick up your son he is too much for me too handle. Now that I have heard it once, I will never be able to purge it from my memory. There is no amount of optimism that can delete those words after they have been heard.

Am I wrong to be skeptical? I never doubt the incredible little person that Miles is, but I also know what a handful he can be. I know his quirks and they are sometimes even hard for ME to handle.

But I have to have faith that this will work out.

And if not, we do have a few contingency plans in our back pocket. Just in case... ;)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

And now for the rest of the story

We are going to be ok.

I just had to get that out there. Yes, getting booted from daycare was probably my lowest moment as a parent thus far. I cried a lot. I got pissed (meaning mad AND drunk....ok, so I had a little wine). I was sad. My husband (who I often call Pollyanna Sunshine) was instantly optimistic that this was a good thing and that there is nothing to be upset about. Typical. But that's not how I roll. I need to process. I need time...

I was most upset that this whole thing made me question my parenting abilities. (Have I already screwed him up so badly?) It also made me question, if only for a moment, who my son really is. Was he the "mean" child that our current daycare provider has labeled him? Can a not-yet 20 month old really BE mean intentionally? I have never seen it. But I questioned. For the first time ever I had to really take my mommy blinders off and try to see the whole picture clearly.

And what did I see? I see a normal, healthy and active toddler who is exploring and learning and growing. There is nothing mean about him. I am here to tell you that I know my son better than anyone in the world and he is AMAZING. He is an incredible little person and I will not let anyone make me question that ever again. That is my solemn vow.

I really appreciate all of your comments. I read every word and took them all to heart. You, my dear readers, are wise. And I thank you for your kindness.

Here is the story behind the story: Our daycare provider is 77 years old. Yes, I said 77 years old. She has been doing daycare for over 50 years. She does this with the help of her husband who is a retired phy ed teacher. Together they watch about 6 kids in their home that is just 4 blocks from ours. They are friends from church.

Now, before you go thinking we are crazy for even sending him to a 77 year old, let me fill you in on a few things. She is a young 77 year old. She seemingly has more energy than I do and appears to be much younger than she actually is. They live a VERY healthy lifestyle. She makes home cooked meals from scratch with low fat and salt for the kids every single day. She keeps her house impeccably clean (which is important to us). And the kids seem to love Joanie and Uncle (as they call them).

But things aren't always as they seem. I realized very early on that this was not a situation in which we were going to get much communication and feedback on, well, anything. We rarely knew much about what he did in his day. Did he poop? I don't know. Did he nap well? I don't know. Because she would never communicate anything to us. We would ask, "How was his day?" and she would always say, "Good. Real good." We would then have to ask more probing questions and would sometimes get little tidbits. It's not that she was trying to be secretive or that she didn't want us to know, my sense is that she thought we should just trust her and leave it at that. We got the feeling that the kids and families that she selects to be in her care are NOT Type A personalities. She wants the "easy" kids that will just play on their own all day long with no structure and be happy about it. She wants the parents that don't ask any questions. We strike out on both counts.

In her defense: they took very good care of Miles and he loves it there. His little friends are precious to him and he says their names all the time. "Ella bub-bye?" he will ask in the evenings after we are home. It's really cute. The kids are well cared for. They are read to, they sing songs, they play outside. But the flip side is that they are also very hands-off. The fact that Miles might need to be redirected once in a while or might need to be disciplined or might just want to be held and snuggle (which he often does) was way too much for them to handle. Ok. Whatever. I can see now that it is very much time for us to move on. And it's way past time for her to retire.

Here's the good news: With the help of some local classifieds and the help of my awesome friends we have some good leads. We are actually really excited about the possibility of getting Miles into a more structured setting and into a place where they let kids be kids!

The moment I knew we were going to be ok happened yesterday afternoon. I was talking to a nice daycare provider (who we are going to interview this week) and she was gushing about how much she loves little boys and "how naughty they can be". Music to my ears. We will be fine. Just fine.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Let the Truth Be Told, On Tuesday

I'm not sure you're ready for this truth, because I am not.

The truth? Our son is being kicked out of daycare.

We just learned this little fact yesterday. We have TWO WEEKS to find him new care.

He is "too active", requires too much attention and they can't handle him anymore.

Apparently he knocks over toys that the other (older) kids set up. He jumps off of furniture. He is too rough with the one year old girl they watch.

He doesn't bite. He naps well. He eats well. He loves his daycare friends, gives them hugs and kisses when we say goodbye every day. But apparently knocking over the other kids' Lego towers crosses the line.

I didn't realize his offenses require expulsion. I was under the impression that instead of getting kicked out of daycare we might try to work on these things as a team with patience, discipline, time, communication ... but I must be wrong.

It's apparently no warnings and you're OUT. After 15 months with barely a peep about his behavior.

The message we got is that our son is not worthy to be at their home for care. He's not good enough.

This is the moment in parenthood that you dread. The moment where your fears about not doing a good enough job look like they are being validated. Someone is telling you to your face that they don't like spending time with your child.

I feel like I have failed...

We are the first to admit that Miles is a spirited child. He can be difficult. But he is far from the bad kid that he is being labeled. He is a good kid.

I guess I imagined this past weekend where he didn't have one bad moment. Not one meltdown. I must have made that up in my mind. It must not be possible.

I feel like shit. There's the truth.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Worst Blog Ever

I realize I have the most boring-looking blog ever. No cute little header. No badges on the sidebar. No fun links to check out. No bling whatsoever. Actually, I have done nothing except import my posts and plop on a free background to get me by for the time-being. I get the "Worst Blog Ever" Award for the moment. HOWEVER, I am working on it so bear with me!!! I promise to have a super fabulous looking (can't vouch for the writing) blog soon enough. I am making some decisions about my next steps so please don't go away yet. And thanks for following me to my new address. Blogger is my first love. Sorry Wordpress lovers but I just GET Blogger. I have used it now for over 3 years so I am going back to the familiar. Ahhh. Home again, home again. Jiggity Jig.

Now, if anyone can find me the time that I need to actually "Pimp My Blog" let me know. ;)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Stop glaring at my son and go back to pretending your kids are perfect

I guess the title of the post pretty much sums it up. Maybe you've never experienced this, and if not consider yourself lucky. You must have a child that is nothing like mine. I get those "looks" from other mothers all.the.time. You know, the "Why can't you control your child" or the "Make him shut up" looks. Still don't know what I'm talking about? Have you ever been in a church service where your child might make the smallest peep and you suddenly have the wrath of God upon you? I've been there. I've done that. Why is it that other mothers are always the ones to make you feel the worst in those situations? Aren't we supposed to have each other's back??

We went to the public library last night for storytime. I know, we are crazy. We like to live on the edge. Taking our 19 month old spirited boy to a place where he will be required to listen and sit still is like going on a suicide mission. But we were desperate. It gets dark at 5:30 p.m. now, and that makes the evenings very looooong. So, we do what we can to entertain ourselves, even if that means taking some huge chances.

We quickly discovered some things at storytime: 1) Most of the kids (like 80%--honestly) that were at storytime were GIRLS (hmmmm.....wonder why.....); 2) Miles' activity level is apparently about a thousand times higher than the majority of all other children in the world; and 3) He actually did VERY well and tried very hard to listen...he clapped along to the songs and did the actions with the other kids. We were very proud.

But, Miles is Miles. He likes to yell "Yaaaaaayyy!" whenever he can. What can I say, he's just happy! So, when the other kids were sitting quietly with their hands in their laps Miles was (literally) jumping up and down, doing somersaults, clapping, laughing and yelling "Yaaaaaayyy!" at the top of his lungs. How can we scold him for being happy?? How, I ask you???? We can't. We told him "Shhhhh". We tried to calm him down. We tried many things. But really he was just having FUN. How dare he.

And then came the glares.

I tried to ignore them. Their kids were sitting quietly, trying to enjoy the storytime. I understand. I can sympathize. But we are at storytime for kids, for God sake. We weren't at a funeral.

As time passed and Miles' enthusiasm level increased, I could feel the eyes of the other moms borring holes in my skull. Thankfully there was one mom there who was smiling and giving me the "He's just having fun, let him do it" look. Thank goodness for the sweet moms that DO truly understand. And thank goodness for my darling husband who was patiently trying to corral our boy.

Overall, the storytime was actually a good experience. If it hadn't been for the few bitches (sorry, but it's true) that were pretending their children's poop smells like roses it would have been a completely positive evening.

I think the bottom line for me is this: Never, ever judge other mothers. We all know how hard it is to be a parent. We all know that there are moments when your kids do not act perfectly. We all parent differently. We all make different judgment calls in situations. But in my mind we are also all in this together! It makes me sad that we have to draw lines in the sand with each other. Didn't breastfeed? There should be no judgment. Let your kid watch Sesame Street while you check your email? There should be no judgment. Allow your child to show joy in his own way in public? There should be no judgment.

And I especially think I need to turn this around on myself. I am my own worst critic. I should not judge myself. I often think "Ugh! Why can't you handle this better?" I am so hard on myself. I beat myself up. I think we all do that from time to time. But we shouldn't. It's like we are always trying to teach Miles: GENTLE. Be gentle to yourself. And be gentle to others.

Granted, Miles is sometimes the kid throwing the temper tantrum. He is often the one stealing the toys from other kids. He hits. He is naughty. But we're working on it, and doing the best we can. He is not the kid who sits quietly, or sits at all. He is who is he, and he is awesome! I refuse to squelch his enthusiasm for life because other moms think he should be quiet. I only wish I were half as smart, funny and engaged in life as Miles. I think I can learn a lot from him.

I just think next time we will do a tumbling class and leave storytime for the girls ;)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Let the Truth Be Told, On Tuesday

(This one is for Christine and Emily)

I have often laughed at comments people have made on our blog for Miles. Not because they are ridiculous or I think they are dumb, but so many times I think "If you only knew!" I get comments like "OMG, what a little angel he is!" or "You guys look so perfectly happy!". And yes, he is our angel (we wouldn't have given him a middle name of Gabriel if we didn't think so) and yes some of the time we are blissfully happy. But let's face it: we don't live in La La Land. We live in the real world where there are hard days, yelling, tantrums and tears.

Our life is not perfect.

This is not a revelation. It's just the truth.

Like many people who frequent blogs of those with young children, most of what I see is happy faces. Perfectly dressed and well-behaved children. But do you know what my favorite blogs are?? Not the ones with picture after picture of their cute kids. [Although, that is what MY blog is--I am super surprised that anyone still looks at it, to be honest. It's all fluff--but fluff that I love!] My favorite blogs are the ones where TRUTH is told. I'm not talking about airing dirty laundry or throwing all of your skeletons out of your closet (because blogs that share TMI are, in a word, annoying): I am talking about truth. Moms who admit to having bad days are my heroes. Women who talk about how they haven't had a date with their husbands in 6 months and can't remember the last time they shaved their legs are a breath of fresh air to me. I love that stuff. I have always, always wished I could be that honest about my life as it is. But for reasons that I think I have already thoroughly explained (mostly because I don't want to complain and think people don't really care what I think) I have not written down all of the stuff I have wanted to.

Well, now I am here to do that!

If there is a truth to be told that I think might be helpful to share, I will do that from now on. "Let the Truth Be Told, on Tuesday" shall henceforth be a staple of this blog.

So, thank you to all of my fellow bloggers who put the truth out there every day. You are brave and strong and I aspire to be more like you. Keep it up!

Monday, November 2, 2009


My child is brilliant. But that's not what this post is going to be about. Just wanted to get that out there ;)

What's really brilliant and shiny and exciting to me today is this article that I read on Hybrid Mom. Did you read the first two paragraphs? They express exactly where I am at in my career right now:

I’ve always been able to get pretty good jobs: I’m smart, articulate, I have a strong work ethic, take initiative, a pretty good problem solver and a team player, willing to lead with or without a title. Despite the hard work I put in, I still found myself in a job that was unfulfilling and that failed to provide the challenge and opportunity I sought after. It was a pretty good job, but I was just bored. I wanted more; I knew that – I just had no clue of how to get it. Have you ever been in that place? Or maybe you are there now.

As a working mother, and definitely as a single mother, there is every excuse as to why our ambition gets put on pause: We are doing everything by ourselves, there’s not enough time, money, support, _______ you fill in the blank. But the excuses don’t stop our heart from wanting. There’s a proverb that says, “a dream deferred makes the heart sick.” It is unhealthy to put off and dismiss the things your heart wants – regardless of the reason. I’ve often wondered if the reason so many of us are depressed or tired is because of the energy it takes to mask and bury our true desires so we can get through the day to day grind that requires less and less of our true brilliance.

This is my work life right now in a nutshell. I am B.O.R.E.D. And I know it. I could do so much more. I could be so much more.

I was recently talking with one of my brilliant BFFs who shall remain nameless (except her name rhymes with Fawna) about this very thing. It's a frequent and welcome topic of conversation for us. She is always my sounding board for our (and by our I also mean Grant's) business ideas and how we are going to take over the world. Or at least change it. We have LOTS of good ideas. Some are actually really feasible. And I think that any one of us if we put our minds to it could absolutely be successful in a business enterprise if we fully committed ourselves to it. So why are we such chickens???

It takes guts--lots and lots of guts--to cut and run. To break from the "norm" and strike out on your own adventure. Many of us want to do it. But we just can't. There are so many things that tie us down. Mortgages. Kids. You name it. There are many reasons why, especially in this economy, we should be fearful of leaving our cushy jobs to pursue our dreams.

But what are the consequences of our inability to act on our goals and dreams?

The strange thing is that we have actually done this very thing and have been successful at it! I always forget this little fact. Right after we were married Grant left his good job as an accountant at a local credit union to start his own business. From scratch. Yikes, when I think about it now I practically break out in hives. But back then I truly believe we felt invincible somehow. What the hell were we thinking?? He quit his job, started his lawn care business and worked his ass off. And it was a HUGE success! It was so successful that 2 years later we sold the business for nearly 10 times what we put into it initially.

At first glance I think, well, that was then and this is now. Now we have Miles. Now our mortgage is bigger. Now we have other dreams to think about (like a second adoption, perhaps??). We can't just quit our jobs and strike out on paths that could eventually lead us to financial ruin.

But, again, I wonder what are the consequences if we DON'T act on our dreams? Do we end up denying ourselves the chance to be truly fulfilled in a career path of our own design and choosing? Maybe. Are we better off staying in our safety zone, even though it might ultimately hurt our hearts to do so? Maybe.

Here are some questions to ask yourself if you come upon this crossroads in life:

- Will this opportunity ever come around again?

- If you pass up this opportunity how will you feel about your decision in one year? Five years?

- Have you taken a look (a REALLY good look) at your current financial situation, and do you know what changes or contingency plans you would need to make if you were to peruse your dream? (Don't say "I can't" if you don't know that for sure....maybe you can!)

- Do you have a well thought out business plan?

- Do you have the passion and work-ethic to make it happen?

Brilliant. It think we are all brilliant at something. Some of us are brilliant photographers. Some of us are brilliant writers. Some of us are brilliant rollerskaters. Whatever it might be, I am hoping that many more of us working moms take a chance on our own brilliance. Let our lights shine, so to speak. I haven't quite figured out what I am brilliant at yet, but when I do you can be sure I will be asking myself these exact questions.  Because you never know what direction your life can take if you allow your brilliance to shine.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Other N Word

Did you know that racism is alive and thriving in this country? Yep, it is. (Shocking, I know.) I get little first-hand tastes every now and then. And how does it taste? Bitter.

I always think I am going to be prepared for it when it comes. I have thought through retorts and responses a thousand times, playing out the potential offending scenarios in my head. But then when it actually happens? Crickets in my brain. Chirp Chirp. I go blank. Well, not completely blank but the intelligent and thoughtful lines that I had in que seem to go out to lunch at that moment in time. Maybe I need to add more fish oil to my diet. Good for the brain.

The latest racist expletive I heard is a doozy. A DOOZY. I don't think I have heard this word since I watched Roots in the 7th grade. It's not the N Word. No, it's the OTHER N Word, the one that Wikipedia claims became an ethnic slur in the 1960's.

Are you ready for it?


I'll give you a minute to process....or to gag....

Okay, so here's the deal. I had someone use this word in a sentence to me just yesterday, over the phone. She is lucky it was over the phone because if it had been in person I'm not sure what I would have done. I do not know this person, and hopefully never will. This person was calling the church where I work. She is not a member but was wondering about our worship services. She was asking me if I knew a certain person at our church, and this is how it was said (exact words): "Does that dark woman still play the piano there? You know, the negro?" Yes, this is a true story. So I say (after my mind goes blank from the shock): "You probably mean Marti, and yes she is African-American." Racist woman on the other end says: "Yeah...whatever."

Now, I wish I would not have left it at that. I SO wish I would have said more. But looking back I think I might have done all I could in that situation. I should have said something like, "That word is offensive and I suggest you use something more appropriate like African-American." But would that have been any more effective that what I really did say? I don't know. I don't think anything would have gotten through her ignorant, Neanderthal skull. Sorry, anger gets us nowhere. I realize that. But I AM angry, damn it. Very angry. I am mad that this shit still exists. That people are allowed to walk around thinking and saying these things makes me sick to my stomach. I am offended on behalf of my son, on behalf of ALL AA people. It's not just about antiquated language, or ignorance, or not knowing any better. Those are all excuses for the fact that this LABEL is, plain and simple, not acceptable. Although this slur is really a derivative of the Latin word "niger", meaning "black", it's ties are to utterly painful things in the history of AA people in this country--namely slavery. This kind of language is so much more damaging that one might first think.

Speaking of damaging: Did you know that if you Google the word negro one of the suggested "related searches" that comes up, in fact the FIRST one that comes up, is "negro jokes"? That leaves me cold.

I won't expound on this too much because there are so many other people who have said it far better than I ever could. But, I do want to say that LANGUAGE MATTERS. Sticks and stones can break my bones but words will never hurt me. B.S.! Words can do deep and long-lasting harm. Words are what wars are fought over every day. Words are the ammunition of bigots and bullies.

And one word can feel like a punch in the gut. It only takes one.

Racism: Another ugly word. I don't like it and I will never accept it. I am so aware of the fact that I am a white woman raising a black son in this kind of world. It is my responsibility to him to never accept this as status quo. That is why I work with the Diversity Council of Rochester, that is why I talk about these things with family and friends, that is why I hope to write and speak more publicly about these topics at some point in my life. We are so freakin' proud of our multi-racial family. We think it is beautiful. I hope that someday we will live in a world where everyone thinks the same.

Monday, October 26, 2009


After a wonderful weekend with my boys, I am feeling perfectly in harmony with the universe. There has been so much stress and drama in our lives lately that I think we all have felt a little off kilter, a little bit like crazy people who had lost our minds. But now we are settling back into our routines and our rituals, and that feels oh so good.

I think that's what I crave most in life: BALANCE. You need the ups and the downs to appreciate the times when all is at equilibrium. Normal is good. Boring is good.

I can see how the rollercoaster of life effects Miles. I am more aware than ever that he CAN feel our stress, he DOES feel our pain. And on the other end he also feels it when we are happy and content.

The realization of just how much he feeds off our state of mind hit me like a ton of bricks this morning: My mood changes his. (Seems like DUH! But I am a bit slow at seeing some of these more obvious parenting things.) As I said, we had a nice weekend. Didn't do anything in particular but it was just good. Lots of time just the three of us, which is what we like best. I was calm, I was happy, I was in a good mood. Feeling no stress for the first time in, well, a long time. So by the time we all woke up this morning, it seems that all the GOODNESS had settled into our little munchkin. He woke up happy, full of smiles, full of hugs. He even ran to the bedroom to get the sweater that I had worn yesterday (that was lying on the floor) and brought it to me, and eagerly watched as I put it on, and then put his coat on him. It was as if he was saying to me "C'mon mama, let's go have more fun!" This is such a great age because they now actively start to show you how much they love you by doing little things like that. I love him so much. What a nice start to the week.

But how do you bottle balance? Yeah, I know, it's called Zoloft ;) No really, I have often wondered how to harness this feeling of contentment when you feel anything but content. I think I am getting closer to figuring that out due to a book that I am reading and a recent retreat that I attended that focus on buddist and zen principles. I will explore that in more depth in another post. But for now I will just bask in the glow of the moment. Happy. Content. Ahhhh.

Friday, October 23, 2009

They Freakin' Read My Mind

I just found this site called Hybrid Mom and nearly fell out of my chair. Did they read my mind?? Their tagline is "Mother your ambitions". And furthermore, the header of their site says "What is a Hybrid Mom? We've evolved into a new generation of moms who embrace their multiple identities."

OMG. Awesome.

So, apparently this is not a new and original idea that I have about motherhood. Damn.

Check this out, love it:

What is a Hybrid Mom?

If you have ever:

…owned a purse that functions as a diaper bag, laptop case, tote and/or contains both a cell phone and some stray Cheerios
… prayed that your mute button is not broken while on a conference call
…had a great idea for a business, but no clue what to do with it
… worked from a local coffeehouse to have more peace and quiet then at the home office
…had to make the choice between a big meeting and a little league game
…thought “balance” is overrated, yet strived for some form of it each day.

Then now is the time to declare yourself. For you my friend, are a Hybrid Mom!

From Entrepreneurs to Executives. From Bloggers to Volunteers. From Consultants to Students. We Hybrid Moms are everywhere – and we are actively pursuing our personal and professional goals on terms that still allow us a fulfilling family life. We are strong. We are resourceful. We are ambitious. And now, we are one.

Our Hybrid Mom promise:
We are committed to helping each Mom nurture her own ambitions, in a world where so much is demanded of her. We understand her needs. We believe in her ability. We see her potential. We proudly provide her the inspiration, tools, and opportunity she needs to succeed.

Anne says: Yes, YES, YESSSS!!!! (a la Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally)

I just ordered a subscription to their magazine, signed up for their mailing lists, joined their FB group, am following them on Twitter, etc...

I am a little excited.

If anyone has any more of these enlightening types of groups they can tell me about, I am all ears!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

My Someday List

Ever heard of a Bucket List? You know, the list that you make of all the things you want to do before you 'kick the bucket'?

Well, as a piggyback to my last post (the whole, "I have a dream" post) I have decided to make myself one of those. A place to write down all of my alleged goals and dreams seems like a good idea. (Gee, I guess I like lists a lot??)

Except I hate the name Bucket List. Seriously, how morbid.

So I have decided to call this My Someday List. Some are petty and some are profound. And some are somewhere in between. I think this is an extremely good exercise. I will look at this list on the days when work sucks, Miles is being a pain in the ass and I am fighting with Grant...and it will help me to focus on the fact that THIS TOO SHALL PASS. See, I'm not good at that. I think that if it sucks now it will ALWAYS suck. It's a curse. I think this will help me focus my energy, and maybe (just maybe) I will start to check some things off the list.

I have left out some of the obvious ones like "Be a millionaire" or "Have happy, healthy, generous and emotionally stable children" or "Live in my dream home" ... but I am trying to think outside the box on these.

Making this list is much tougher than I thought it would be. Here goes nothin'!


Someday I would like to shower without at least one pair of eyes on me.

Someday I would like to have a master bathroom with double sinks.

Someday I would like to have a double attached garage.

Someday I would like to have a fireplace.

Someday I would like to own my own business.

Someday I would like to go back to school to get a degree in graphic design or something related.

Someday I would like to have a daughter.

Someday I would like to go to London.

Someday I would like to go to Italy and Greece.

Someday I would like to see the Pyramids.

Someday I would like to take my nephews on a road trip.

Someday I would like to teach a whole year of Sunday School and be there every single week.

Someday I would like to donate an enormous amount of money to a worthy charity.

Someday I would like to write and publish a book.

Someday I would like to meet someone really famous.

Someday I would like to become at least semi-fluent in a foreign language.

Someday I would like to learn how to play the piano.

Someday I would like to fly First Class.

Someday I would like to be in Times Square on New Year's Eve.

Someday I would like to take my entire family to Disney World.

Someday I would like to say I have visited all 50 states (I am at 25).

Someday I would like to see a taping of Oprah and Conan.

Someday I would like to own a vineyard.

Someday I would like to be a grandparent.

Someday I would like to go on a mission trip to Africa.

Someday I would like to be able to say that I am 100% debt-free.

Someday I would like to be able to go shopping and actually have money to spend.

Someday I would like to see my kids graduate from college.

Someday I would like to be able to retire comfortably.

Someday I would like to attend either the Oscars or the Emmys.

Someday I would like to get massages, manicures, pedicures, facials, haircuts and highlights on regular basis.

Someday I would like to have someone tell me that I am a really good mother.

Someday I would like to lose 15 pounds.

Someday I would like to learn the art of meditation.

Someday I would like to have time to do devotions, keep a journal, read and exercise every day.

Someday I would like to get another tattoo.

Someday I would like to be someone's boss or the president of something.

*This list will be constantly changing, I'm sure. But it's a good start, right?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

All of the Above...and then some

We all have multiple personality disorder. At least, I like to think so.

No really, think about it. We are all so very many things. We wear so many hats. Can you name them all? If not, try it! Do it. I did. You can see my list on the sidebar. It's not an exhaustive list (like I could have added "Battlestar Galactica's Biggest Fan", "World's Worst Baker", etc... ). But it's a pretty good snapshot of who I am. Or at least my LABELS.

Hmmmm....labels. Let's talk about labels.

I have noticed that when we give ourselves and each other labels we often limit ourselves. We say "I am a mother." or "She is an accountant." Why do we do that to ourselves? I suppose it's out of necessity. I guess we can't really say "She is a wonderful human being, created and loved by God, adored by her family and friends, ..." That would be counterproductive. So, we give ourselves and each other short and succinct (and often VERY limiting) labels. We put ourselves in a box. We put others in similar boxes. And that is where we stay.

I take issue with that. Lately I have taken major offense at being labeled one thing or another. Why does this bug me so much? Because I am, we all are, soooo many things. Let me explain:

My primary label is "Miles' Mama". I love that label. I cherish it. I adore it. I am proud of it. But I also rail against it. I am not a feminist. I do not think traditional gender roles are evil. But I do think that by putting on the label of "mother" the assumption is that the other labels have to go away. Disappear. POOF! Like being a mother means that everything else has to fade to a distant memory. AND if you choose not to give up your other labels you are somehow slacking off on your primary responsibility as a mother. Don't agree? Don't think I am right on this one? Think about it. It's true. We put this pressure of being a mother and ONLY a mother on each other and ourselves. Every day. Ever hear of mama guilt? It's a very real thing. But that's for another post.

Here's an example: I recently had lunch with a woman who is not yet a mother, but deeply desires to be. In fact, they will be adopting in the near future. I casually mentioned that I love reading and am in a bookclub, and that I play the violin and am in a big production at church every spring. She gave me a funny look, and then said, "How do you have time for all that AND being a mom? Your husband must be very supportive!" Hmmmmm.... Yes. Interesting, isn't it? Somehow my interests suddenly become a burden to my husband? We are all the architects of this idea that motherhood has to be all-consuming; block by block we build ourselves into a corner where we are left wondering what happened to the person that we used to be. The message is clear: How could we possibly have interests outside of our children? How could we possibly be so selfish as to spend time away from them? Our poor husbands or babysitters that are left to raise our abandoned children! (okay, I am exaggerating a little on that one, but you get my point)

Here is my moment of zen: I want to be more than just a mother.


Hello. My name is Anne. And I have other interests outside my son.

And I will not give them up for him or for anyone.


I realize how sacrilegious this all sounds. I am defiling the sacred house of motherhood with these words. But it's the truth of MY life. I have interests, desires, dreams and goals that have nothing at all to do with my label as mother. I am by no means saying that I put myself ahead of my son. Because I don't. I think parenting requires sacrifice and our family is my number 1 priority. But that does not mean that the moment Miles was born I hit delete on the rest of my life.

My first instinct is to apologize to you (the whole Lutheran/Minnesotan/Scandinavian curse) for saying these seemingly selfish things, to remind you of my deep love for my son and to repent of my sins. But I am going to resist. ;)

But here's the flip side for me: What if I allowed myself to be fully engulfed in this label of mother? Would I be happy to be that and ONLY that? No. Do I know people who are happy to be that and ONLY that? Yes. To each their own. No judgments.

We all become mothers for different reasons. And there is no right or wrong reason. Just different. I have heard a few people say that when their child was born they felt somehow complete, or like it gave them the feeling that they could do anything and be anything they wanted to, like they themselves were being re-born through their children, like their children gave them wings to fly. What an awesome testament to the power of motherhood--I am jealous of their experience. Because I can't really say the same. In fact, I would say that at times I have had the opposite experience. I have sometimes had feelings of resentment, loss of freedom and isolation after becoming a mother. I have sometimes not felt released, I have felt trapped. I have sometimes not felt free, I have felt a heavy weight. But again, this ball of wax is for another post.

My point is that labels can be damaging or they can be freeing. They can be hurtful or they can be helpful. Or they can mean nothing. But the fact of the matter is that we are not just one thing, we are many things. We are all of the above. I have named my blog "All of the Above" for that reason. I want to be reminded daily that I am a complex and ever-evolving creature. It gives me great comfort and joy to know that I am NOT just one thing, I am many. I am a better mother for being not only that, but "All of the Above". I desire to be an example to my children, and these are lessons I wish to teach through how I live my life: Well-roundedness and self-care.

Speaking of lessons, there is one in this for me, too. I am learning how to be all of my labels at the same time. It is a precarious balancing act that I sometimes do well and sometimes fail at. But I am learning. I am growing. I am doing my best.

I would challenge you, as I have challenged myself, to look at the labels in your life and the labels that you put on other people. Being aware of them has changed my perception of how I see myself as a mother and how I see others. What is the expression? "Know thyself." Be self-aware. Make a list like I did. You never know what you might discover.

I'm a Mother, Not a Martyr

This blog is a work of love. It's my love child, of sorts. It's purely for me. For the love of ME.

Sounds selfish, yes? How dare I take the time and energy to put my deepest thoughts in writing. How narcissistic of me. You are a mama first, for God sake! You should not have the time, desire or energy to do anything of this sort (my inner voice screams at me). Why should anyone care what YOU think?? What gives you the right to think that you can just vent to the universe in this manner?? This is only going to be a place to complain, whine and cry, isn't it?? ISN'T IT???


Well, sort of.

This blog will, in the end, beg only one thing of me: Honesty. It's so much harder than it seems...

This idea has always been in my head...the idea of a place where I can be totally honest about life, about parenting, about being a wife. It has seemed like a far away dream. And it got more distant with each "put on a happy face" post on my other blogs. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE my life. I have an incredible, amazing and blessed existence that I thank God for every single day. But I have always longed for a place to write down my darker thoughts, work through some things I am grappling with and just write honestly in general.

But I don't want it to be a bitch-fest, a woe is me, an angst-ridden tirade, a pity party table for one. After all: I am a mother, not a martyr. I don't cry myself to sleep. Most of the time. But I do feel bottled up, contained in a box that I have built for myself. And I am ready to bust out! Ready to spread my wings and write. Ready to finally have an outlet for all the things that I wish I could say that I don't.

You see, the silence has been deafening. At least for me.

But there is a problem. Well, 3 problems, actually. 1) I am Scandinavian. 2) I am Lutheran. And 3) I am a Minnesotan. When it comes to being honest and forthright about our feelings no matter what, WE SUCK. I have those 3 strikes against me. It's in my blood, in my upbringing, and in my soul to be nice, to spare people's feelings at the expense of my own, to be humble, to not complain. These are the basic core values of how I was raised. When it comes to breaking free of those things in order to explore the things that I want to explore, it feels like there is a mountain in front of me...

But I will try, I will do my best. I sincerely don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, it's true. But I might. I sincerely want to be nice. But I might not be. I will apologize once and only once. Here it is in advance: I'm sorry.

Now that that's out of the way, on with the show.