Love, Mom and Dad

At the start of my senior year in high school my class went on a retreat. Parents were asked to write letters to their kids. We were surprised with them and allowed to read them in the quiet after meditation and prayer. Some people had one letter. Others had many. I had two. Two very different, very impactful letters. One letter was from Mom and the other was from Dad. Over a decade of more life changes than I can even remember, I still find comfort and strength in them. I keep them safe and tucked away but occasionally, when desire strikes or when I’m feeling down, I take them out and read them again.

One of my favorite parts of these letters is that, without consulting one another, they both wrote “Snooty Booty” somewhere on the envelope. It’s a name my brother gave me when I was being a typical grouchy asshole teenager on a road trip we took once. They still call me that on occasion. I remember reading Mom’s letter first and seeing “Snooty Booty” on the front and laughing. By the time I got to Dad’s letter I was an absolute emotional mess and when I saw “Snootie Bootie” written on the inside of the envelope I laughed like a deranged lunatic. Not exactly something to be encouraged in a quiet room full of people but it was worth it.

I’ve always loved that my parents each wrote me a letter, even before they divorced. They separated not long after my graduation. I think if they’d written together it would have been strange to read now. When I saw the two envelopes I expected them to be similar. Ar first thought maybe they both had written out of a feeling of obligation. I was wrong thankfully. They both put a lot of thought into their writing. The letters sum up who they are as individuals, as parents, and our respective relationships so well.

In my Mom’s letter, she talks about watching me grow up. Over five pages of beautifully written script, she writes of love in ways that only a mother can. She talks about watching me grow. Remembers my chubby baby face and knobby kneed preteen awkwardness. She jokes about me knowing how to make her nervous as I prepared for college and had more boys coming around. (Woo buddy! I definitely didn’t take it any easier on her after that either. Sorry Mom!) Now that I’m a Mom myself, one line in particular really stands out as I read it, “I hold moments of you like snapshots in my head.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen my children smile or laugh or even cry when I’ve said to myself, “Ah! This is one to hold on to! Keep this memory close and don’t let it go!” I guess I get that from her. She writes about moving into the next phase of life and says that she’ll always be here for me as “Mom” but also as a friend. I’m glad she was right. She really is my best friend.

Dad’s letter is different. I always laugh when I read the lines, “I thought about getting all sappy and waxing nostalgic about you growing up. Not for me. I figured your Mom would do enough if that.” Like I said, the letters reflect who they are. Dad instead focuses on the future. He encourages me to take chances, to fly as high and as far as I can. He says to face challenges head on and to never stop dreaming. He tells me to be true to myself. Dad reminds me that some of the most rewarding experiences are some of the most difficult to go through. As he closes his letter he says, “I’ve encouraged you to fly but understand you can always come home.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve needed to “come home” to my parents even if it’s just a short phone call. I pray that my children feel like they can come home when the time comes for them to leave the nest.

For me, one of the beautiful parts of these letters is that they are still relevant to me all these years later. My life has changed so dramatically since I was 17. I am not the same person I was, although the person I am now was starting to take shape then. My parents aren’t the same people they were then either. Our family has expanded exponentially. Yet the messages of love and encouragement still resonate. I believe that it’s because a parent’s love is undying and unyielding. It weathers all storms.

As parents we struggle sometimes with fears that we’re not enough. We worry that we’re screwing up our kids. We worry about a thousand things that, in hindsight, are often unimportant. I have to remind myself often that what matters most is that we love our children deeply and without reservation. That we encourage them and tell them how proud we are of them and give them a safe place to return to. Not a safe place as in a home necessarily, but by being available to them. Over the years my parents have provided me with home by their phone calls and hugs and so much more. I can only hope that when the time comes for my babies to fly I’ll be able to hold onto all the snapshots I have in my mind of their lives and be there for them when they need to come home.

You’re A Good Mom

Motherhood is weird. It doesn’t look like what I thought it would most of the time. I didn’t expect perfection of my children. I’m too much of a free range parent for that. I knew they’d be a little weird and sometimes look a mess. I knew my house would be a wreck because I’m just not a person who’s good at keeping all of their ducks in a row. What I didn’t expect was the toll that becoming a Mother would take on my mental health. For God knows what reason I thought that I’d be Super Mom. Not in the “Pinterest your entire Birthday party” way, but in the “always calm and loving way.” I was so wrong.

I fail time and time again. These kids get under my skin in ways I thought no human could. I never knew that I could be completely broken down by someone that relied on me for survival. I had no clue. They magically know how to push every button. They are constant reminders that patience and understanding are things that I need to work on.

It’s so easy to fall into the trap of believing that you have to be perfect. I don’t remember my Mom losing her mind because I had a great childhood and the bad days don’t seem to be memorable. She assures me often that she wasn’t perfect and that we drove her insane. Movies and Books make motherhood seem like either pure bliss or hellish torture. Why doesn’t anyone seem to talk about the middle? The parts where you don’t like your kids even though you’d die for them. So here are some truths that I wish I knew before I had kids. Things I still have to be reminded of frequently.

There will be times when you question your sanity. Times when you wonder why the hell having children sounded like a good idea. Where you feel like if you are touched one more time or hear one more whine your head may literally burst right off on your shoulders. You’re still a good Mom.

There will be times that you’ll say things or do things out of anger or frustration that you immediately. Just take a deep breath. Calm down, hug your baby, apologize, and move on. As long as no one is hurt you’re okay. You’re still a good Mom.

There will be times when you are so exhausted that you absolutely resent your children for it. You want to snap and tell them to leave you alone and sleep in their own damn beds. Do your best to enjoy the snuggles. It’s okay to be grouchy though. You’re still a good Mom.

There will be times when walking away and taking a break from them while someone else handles their crazy feels like you’re failing or giving up. That’s okay. That’s what needs to be done for you and your kids to survive in that moment. You may need to do it several times in one day. You’re still a good Mom.

There may be times when you hate your Mom body. When you wish you’d been able to keep it the way it was. When you mourn for the sexy body you had. You’ll tell your kids to love their bodies while guiltily thinking about how much you dislike yours. You’re still a good Mom.

Sometimes you will start a project with them and things will be awesome then they’ll suddenly go completely off the rails. They may have complete meat downs. They may ignore every single instruction. You may get mad. You may get discouraged. You may feel like you’ve failed. You haven’t. Try to find a way to make it fun. If you can’t find a way to make it fun, don’t worry. You’re still a good Mom.

There will be times when your child walks out of the house wearing some crazy shit and you won’t realize it until it’s too late. (Like his sister’s pants or his pants on backwards or pants that don’t fit. Sensing a tend?) You’ll worry about people judging you and thinking that you neglect your children. You’re not neglecting them. You’re trying to teach them how to take care of themselves so that they can be productive, free thinking adults. Screw the haters. You’re a good Mom.

There will be times when your children eat peanut butter for dinner instead of that fancy nutritious meal that you spent precious time cooking and planning. They will tell you to your face that it is gross. You’ll want to sell them to the nearest gypsy, yell at them for hurting your feelings, and cry all at the same time. Don’t sell your kids, try not to yell, and cry if you need to. You’re still a good Mom.

There may be times when you cry in the morning because you’ve had to drop them off at the daycare and later that same evening wish they were back at daycare. Then later, once they’re asleep, you’ll cry again and wish they were snuggling with you. That’s okay. Kids know how to endear themselves while driving us insane. You’re still a good Mom.

There will be times when all you want is to take a bath without interruption. Lots of times. You will want it considerably more times than it happens. There will be times when you yell and scream and they’ll still stay. Then you’ll feel bad because you yelled. You’re still a good Mom.

Bonus Moms, there may be times when your child cries for their Mom when they are scared and not you. There may be times when they without malice or rudeness remind you that you aren’t their real Mom. That’s okay. It hurts and it’s difficult but remember that they are just kids. Kids who love their Mom and are sometimes painfully honest. They’ll come around. You’re still a good Mom.

At the end of the day if you can honestly say that you kept your kids alive, fed, and loved then you did your job. Motherhood is the world’s hardest job but you can do it. You were made for it. You are the prefect Mother for your child even if that looks a bit insane some days. The days are long but the years are short Momma. You’re a good Mom.

The Evil Twin

When you have little kids, people seem to think it’s okay to ask weird personal questions about them and you. Things they wouldn’t ask about older children. “Do they sleep through the night?” “Did you nurse them?” “Are they picky eaters?” Not terrible questions, just strange things that people seem to ask in an effort to make conversation.

When you have twins, people take it to a whole other level. “Are they identical or fraternal?” This one doesn’t bother me because it’s not super invasive. “Are they natural or IVF?” What the hell does natural even mean?! They are babies not aliens. All babies are natural regardless of how they were hatched. “Were you trying for twins?” In case you were wondering, you can hope for twins but trying for twins isn’t really a thing. If it’s gonna happen it will happen. “Who’s older?” They were literally born on the same day! What does it matter?

People ask all sorts of things but the question that I hate the most honestly shocks me every time I hear it.

“Which one is the evil twin?”

Sorry what? Evil twin? EVIL TWIN?!

First of all, they are two so the real answer is both. (Kidding!) This isn’t a fairytale or soap opera people! They aren’t two halves of a single person. They are two individual people. Would you approach a mother with two singletons and say “which one is the evil one?” NOPE! That’s crazy. Why? Because it’s not okay to ask people if their kids are evil even if they are twins.

My kids are kids. Neither is evil. Neither is good all of the time. They take turns being wild and crazy and chatty and snuggly and loving. They are perfectly themselves. They are not hero and villain. One isn’t plotting the destruction of the world while the other strives for peace. And if one day one happens to be nicer than the other it won’t be because her sister is mean or evil. It will be because that’s the path she’s chosen for herself.

Self Quarantine Day 44: Ya-Ya!

I believe that eventually everyone finds their tribe. I was blessed to be born into mine. I’m a Ya-Ya. We stole the name without shame from The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells. If you haven’t read it yet, you should. If you hate reading, then watch the movie. Do both. Anyway, in the fictional world the Ya-Ya’s are a group of lifelong friends. A tribe of Steel Magnolias each with their own struggles and strengths. They have grown together and love each other more fiercely than those bound by blood. They are sassy and free spirited and Southern as hell. As such, the name only seemed fitting for our crew.

The Ya-Ya’s and some
of our men hit the town.

There are five of us. It began with my Mother, and when I got married grew to include me. I’ve written briefly about them before but thought that now was as good a time as any to tell you more about these wonderful, strong women. Obviously, you already know about me, so I’ll start with Mom. As always, I’ll be using their nicknames so please don’t think they actually have strange names. We’re from the South but we aren’t that bad.

Mom:

She’s the woman that started it all. Mom has a strong personality that has the ability to pull people into her orbit with its charisma and hold them there with the strength of its love. If anyone in the world was destined to have lifelong friends it’s Mom. She’s overcome a lot in her life, including having me at 18. Some people would be embarrassed about that but to me it’s always been something to be proud of. My Mom beat all of the odds and did it with style. She graduated from high school and college, is an amazing teacher, a wonderful mother, and a fantastic wife. When the world says, “you can’t” she flips it the bird and finds a way. While all of the Ya-Ya’s are creative, Mom is the most diverse in her creativity. She once had a side hustle where she made pajama sets out of t-shirts that she painted and boxers that she sewed ruffles to. She can paint, draw, sew, quilt, cook, bake (literally everything), scrapbook, and out-Pinterest anything that Pinterest has to offer. She is beautiful and has the most amazing energy. I am, of course, biased because she’s my Mom but she’s my favorite Ya-Ya.

Mom with two of the next generation of Ya-Yas.

Chelle-Chelle

This woman will forever be my loud and rowdy Ya-Ya. I grew up in awe of her strength both physically and mentally. Physically, she is in better shape than the rest of us combined and can out lift most men. Mentally, she’s tough too. She takes whatever life throws at her and fights to get what she wants. She doesn’t let setbacks defeat her. She’s fought for her place in her career in athletics and earned it. Chelle can drink with the boys and dress like a lady. She has the loudest, most amazing laugh that bubbles out of her and makes people stop and stare when we’re all together. When I was little she once stuck a suction cup toy to her forehead to try and make me laugh. She’s the one you want in your corner when you need a pep talk and to remember how bad ass you are. She’s also 100% the person most likely to get into trouble with you because she’s always up for an adventure. She volunteers as a medic at veteran fundraisers and is currently working at her local hospital to help with the pandemic since sports are on hold. When we go out, she and my Mom are the ultimate dance team. The rest of us try to keep up and usually end up crapping out before they’ve even broken a sweat. It’s no surprise though, when you know that they’ve know each other since 1st or 2nd grade. She and Mom met and the Ya-Ya’s were born.

Chelle-Chelle and my Brother.

La-La:

Not long after Chelle-Chelle and Mom met, Mom met Lala. She’s wicked smart and a smart ass to boot. She’s incredibly tough and resilient but has a soft mushy interior and sometimes cries when reading my blog. (Stop gushing you baby, your paragraph just started!) She’s the life of every party. She makes the drinks that make you grow hair on your chest and feel like you’ve been hit by a truck the next morning. She’s also one of the first people I call in an emergency and has been for my entire life. It’s great to have a Doctor on your side. From terrible diarrhea, to friends in the hospital, to early labor, and my kid splitting her chin open, she is consulted in every medical situation. I trust her medical judgement literally with my life. I remember being blown away when I was a kid because she was a Doctor. A girl Doctor! Proof that I could do anything! Growing up she helped to introduce me to new foods (there’s a whole story about green ravioli that I’ll share some day), new music, new movies and tv shows, and the theater. She also blessed me with the honor of being her son’s godmother. Her kids kick ass and she most definitely plays a large part in their badassery.

La-La and her best buddy Crazy Eyes.

Nee-Nee

Several years later, Nee-Nee met Mom and through her met the other Ya-Ya’s. Of all of us, she is the most quiet and the most kind. Her super power is love and patience. I’ve never met someone more caring and loving than her. While I may have been the one to give her the name Nee-Nee, there are so many of us who have her to thank for helping to raise us and give us so many awesome childhood memories. She was the one who took me to Sesame Street Live and to Disney. (She even went with me last year when I brought The Twins to Sesame Street Live.) She loves to tell people about all the times I’ve nearly killed her while she rode in my car and the one time I threw a book out of her car window and it hit a police car. (See what I mean? Infinite patience!) She is a teacher and it is her natural gift. She knows how to make every child feel special and important. She loves teaching little ones and now teaches students who have dyslexia and she kicks ass at it. She is there for the people she loves no matter what time it is or what they need. As the years have passed she’s gotten sassier and found her confidence. It’s been so awesome to see. She even agreed to getting a matching tattoo with us once we figure out a design.

Neenee and I with the Twins.

I know the exact moment when I became a Ya-Ya. The moment I went from just being everyone’s baby to being one of the crew. In the middle of my wedding reception, we all managed to find ourselves together on the dance floor. They circled around me and in that moment it was only us. Those women who’d raised me and supported me and held me up for my entire life welcomed me into their circle. They surrounded me with love and strength and beauty. Being a Ya-Ya is a badge I wear with honor. I love each and every one of them and the bond that we share.

Ya-Ya’s on the prowl.

We are there for each other through all moments of life. We have held each other’s hair back, dried each other’s tears, and done some ridiculous shit together. Hell, some of us have even been in the delivery room together. We have toasted to the ones we’ve lost, swapped stories about our loves, and shared many many meals. At our last outing a woman approached our table and told us how jealous she was of us. She wished she had a group of friends like us. (We invited her to stay but her date didn’t look to happy about it.) As for me, we’ll they’re the women who helped raise me and my best friends. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Ya-Ya’s take Meme out to party!

Self Quarantine Day 40: Best Birthday Ever!

I never in a million years thought that I’d be celebrating my birthday during a pandemic. If you’d told me before Friday that this was going to be my best birthday ever I would have laughed at you and called you an idiot. Sometimes it’s nice to be wrong.

My birthday celebrations started off Friday morning with the decision to put my mental health first. The Twins had been making me crazy for days. I’d lost all patience and my nerves were frayed. After asking for his help (something I’m awful at), The Hubs agreed to get the girls dressed, fed, and to his Mom’s house for me. I let myself sleep in then woke up and tiptoed around the house to keep from waking them while I got their clothes and diaper bag together.

During all of this a package arrived from my Meme. She’s the best at birthdays and this year she really outdid herself. She sent me some flowy hippy mu-mu dresses. She also sent me a beautiful opal ring that my Pawpaw gave to her for her birthday years ago. I cried and then got all dressed up for the first time in weeks. I put on jewelry and one of my new dresses. I even shaved my legs. *gasp!* I felt confident and sassy and, most importantly, relaxed.

That got me thinking about what I really wanted for my birthday. I wanted to relax and be luxurious. So I told The Hubs my plan and he made some arrangements. My Father In Law agreed to let him off for the weekend and my Mother in Law agreed to take the kids (all four, bless her) Saturday night and Sunday during the day. As the Hubs made arrangements, I headed to work. I was fortunate to have lovely views all day.

The view from my mask making kit station.

My team and I have been making DIY mask kits to give away for free to people in our community. The best parts of it are sitting by the road waving at cars and seeing how much people appreciate this simple thing. It’s just a ziplock with some fabric and string and instructions in it, but for some people this is a positive note amidst a sea of negativity. Others were super excited to give their kid something to do. So far our organization has given out supplies for over 600 masks. We’re shooting for 1000. So Friday my teammate and I sat by the road and waved at cars and spread joy while soaking up the beautiful weather.

Saturday morning I took it easy. We watched movies with the girls and snuggled. My Bonus Mom stopped by with a beautiful dress for me. No hugs (curse you social distancing!) but it was so good to see her. We haven’t seen each other since before this all started. The Hubs also gave me 500 worms for my compost bin. (Never thought I’d be excited about worms but here we are.)

Our newest pets!

After lunch we brought the twins to my in-laws where they’d get some Nanna and Pawpaw time and get to play with The Boy and Crazy Eyes who were already there. That’s when the real fun began. I went to Whole Foods and got the ingredients for my birthday feast. Wooo Buddy! I was a woman on a charcuterie mission! I had so much fun! I bought fresh berries, apricot jam, crackers, six cheeses, olives, pickled mushrooms, mixed nuts, pine nuts, flowers, and champagne. I even got chocolates and macaroons. I rarely splurge on myself anymore but the timing was perfect. I felt sassy and bougie by the time I left the store. I was giddy with excitement. What could be better than tons of cheese and tasty food?! Ummm I mean what could be better than a date night with my loving husband?! Haha! We feasted on fancy food while drinking champagne and giggling. My brother joined us via FaceTime and some of our other friends even made guest appearances via FaceTime as well.

My mouth is watering just looking at it!

Sunday morning I….SLEPT IN!! Miracles do happen folks! It only happened because the kids were gone and I’d had half a bottle of champagne but it happened! I woke up feeling rested and relaxed. I had a special breakfast of champagne and macaroons and spent some time in the garden. I even discovered our very first tomato!

With no restaurants open, I had to do brunch myself.

After brunch, we took a ride on the motorcycle. As always, I looked like a little kid on the back, especially compared to The Hubs. I can’t look like a badass. It’s just not in me. It’s been a while since I’ve ridden and I forgot just how much it relaxes me. The weather was perfect and the traffic was light. We even went through the Dairy Queen drive through and then spread out in the parking lot and had a picnic.

Picnic in the park..ing lot haha!

Later that night after the Twins went to bed The Hubs and the big kids worked on building me a new fire pit in the backyard. Right before midnight we ate the cake that he made and they happy Birthday to me. It was so sweet. He’s never baked before or decorated a cake but I think he did a great job.

Not bad at all for his very first baking experience.
Birthday cake at midnight is the best!

Today I took it easy with the exception of a couple work meetings. At some point last night three of the four kids ended up in bed with us and I ended up in the Twin’s room on their extra mattress with The Hun so I was exhausted. Sometimes when you have four kids life gets weird and they all decide to have bad dreams or not sleep at the same time. (Probably because the big kids ate cake at midnight.) My Mom and Bonus Dad brought me over a platter for my future cheese boards and a couple of cheeses to go with it. (I’m a cheese fan obviously.) My Aunt even took care of dinner and brought us Ramen from my favorite place. I’ve had calls, texts, and Facebook shout outs all day. My boss even remembered my birthday on our conference call.

It’s hard to be grouchy when you wake up to such a sweet face.

Quarantine may suck, but I wouldn’t trade this weekend for anything. This has been the best damn birthday ever. I couldn’t have asked for more. I feel so blessed and cared for. My family and friends have shown me so much love and spoiled me rotten. I can’t thank everyone enough. I’m excited to see what the future holds even in these uncertain times.

Self Quarantine Day 36: Who We Are

I’ve gotten a lot of new followers here on the blog in the past month and The Hubs revamped my site so I thought it would be a good idea to introduce our tribe again. For you long time readers, you’ll get all up to date on us too. Our family is a little wacky but we’re fun. I use nicknames for everyone here just to be on the safe side. The kids love their nicknames and we actually use them regularly.

The Hubs:

My husband is a big hairy biker man who’s recently developed an obsession with our yard. He’s super smart, very creative, funny, loving, and strong. He’s a Combat Veteran and sometimes struggles with the effects of PTSD. He is usually covered in dirt, grease, oil, or some other funky substance. He’s a great Daddy and an incredibly supportive Husband. We met five years ago and never looked back. I tell him that I love him because he looks intimidating to people who don’t know him but really that’s just a small piece of the puzzle. He says he loves me because of my butt.

Our Five Kids:

Let me preface this by saying, that I am fortunate to have only had one pregnancy in all of this. As far as Bonus Kids go, I hit the jackpot. I don’t often make the distinction between “my kids” and “my bonus kids” because, as far as I’m concerned, they’re my kids. I’m not their Moms, nor would I want to replace them, but I love them just like the monsters that I carried in my belly.

Our Oldest:

She won’t come up in my writing very often as, unfortunately, we don’t get to see her or talk to her anymore. That’s a long story and this isn’t the right place for it. What’s important to know is that we love her and care about her. She’s from my Husband’s first marriage and we only met her for the first time a year ago. It’s an odd situation. We both are happy that we had the opportunity to meet her and hope that we’ll be able to have a relationship with her someday. All of the kids know about her and love her. She’s their big sister regardless of how far away she is. She is an essential part of our story and therefore we always remember to say that we have five children not four.

The Boy:

Our sweet Boy is the only Boy in the whole brood. Poor baby still asks me when I’m going to give him a brother. I always tell him that the baby factory is shut down here and that he should ask his Mom for one. I tell him all the time that he’s my favorite son and he always laughs at me and reminds me that he’s my only son. He’s 8. He is fiercely protective of his little sisters, loves to draw and learn new things, and enjoys driving me crazy. He is his father made over. He’s empathetic and soft hearted though. He cried for hours when our fish died. He has a bad habit of talking back because he hates being wrong. He comes by it honestly between his Dad and Me. Poor kid. He’s working on it. I did an interview with him here on the blog for his birthday the other day. If I had to have only one son in a sea of daughters I’m so happy that it’s him.

Crazy Eyes:

Our middle daughter is our wild thing. She’s a tough girl with a huge personality. She’s 6 going on 21, complete with blue eyeshadow and tiara. We started calling her Crazy Eyes when she was little because her eyes were practically bigger than her head and as blue as the sky. She still likes to bug them out at people. She loves to play her guitar, dress up, and treat her sisters like walking, talking baby dolls. She is stubborn, funny, and thoughtful (when she wants to be). She’s definitely a force to be reckoned with. She makes up for her ferocity with her loving heart. It’s not unusual to find her taking time to color pictures for the people she loves. One day she’s going to take this world by storm.

The Conqueror

The Conqueror is one half of our two year old identical twin pair. She’s our Twin A. Her nickname and her twin’s started as goofy commentary on their constant grouchy faces as babies and stuck. She’s usually the one in charge of the two. She loves to play with her dolls, try to boss me around, and is very protective of her twin and me. She also really enjoys snuggling and ends up in our bed at least twice a week. At home she’s super independent but when we go places she wants to be in my lap the whole time. She enjoys helping me cook and tasting things as the meal progresses. You’ll often find her playing dress up and being sassy. She loves a good purse and pair of shoes or jewelry.

The Hun

Our youngest kid (by a whole four minutes) is our funniest. She’s got a wild imagination and loves to snuggle and play. She has a great smile but can mean mug like crazy. (Hence the name.) While she loves to play dress up, you’re more likely to find her playing in the dirt. The Hun is our nature baby. She’s never met an animal, plant, or mud puddle that she didn’t want to be friends with. She and her sister both call themselves by The Conqueror’s actual name but she knows that it’s not her name. She always makes sure that The Conqueror has her juice or snack before she enjoys her own. When we go places she’s the first to start talking to people and have fun. She’s the cuddliest of all our kiddos but has very little interest in being snuggled at bed time. She’s also the world’s messiest eater.

Me:

I’m the matriarch of this weird little crew. I’m a manager at a children’s museum where I’m fortunate enough to run the best team in the business. (Okay so that’s not proven but I refuse to let anyone even try to convince me otherwise.) I love to read, cook, and draw among other things. I recently started making and selling my own soaps. I’m a bit of a free range parent and believe that children learn through play. I’m a terrible housekeeper. I blog about our adventures and my thoughts and any other oddities that come along. It’s not easy juggling kids, marriage, pets, side hustles, blogging, mental health, and work. Life is weird. It’s wild and it’s fun. I’m so happy that I get to spend my life with the family that I’ve been blessed with.

Thanks for coming along on our crazy ride. I hope you enjoy our stories and learn from our adventures.

Self Quarantine Day 31: Reset

Tonight I am doing nothing. Well, not quite nothing. I’m obviously allowing myself to blog but I’ve set a timer. Fifteen minutes is all I get. Then it’s reset time.

I’ve been working non-stop for days. I wake up and clock in. I work for 8 hours, sometimes more. All while juggling the needs of my children and husband. Sometimes, like today, I get an escape and I get to go into the office while my Mom or Mother-in-law takes The Twins. A good day of work brings with it the satisfaction of mental exhaustion but it also brings with it the exhaustion of mental exhaustion.

Gone are the days of the card ride home to decompress. The commute to work to get my mind right. I never thought that I’d miss sitting in traffic.I wake up early and end up doing housework. Or, even more common, I get five minutes of alone time and then the Twins wake up.

I have projects that I want to get done. A new recipe to cook. A clean house. A fruitful garden. A new rosary to make. Clothes to wash. Soap to make and sell. A TV show to watch. A blog to write. A sketch book that must be filled by August and only has three sketches. Apps to distract myself with.

Not tonight. Tonight the idea of doing any of it, even the things I love to do just felt too damn much like work.

So tonight I do nothing.

No sketches, no soap, and sure as hell no dishes.

Tonight I’m unplugging even though part of me had a little freak out moment as I typed those words. Publish a post and not check on it?! Not check Facebook for soap orders or random distracting videos?!

Nope. None of it.

I’m running a bath, reading my book, (an actual story and not a self-help or management book), putting on my husbands pajamas, eating chocolate, and going to bed.

My timer is going off now. Rest calls me.

Goodnight.

Self Quarantine Day 29: Chain Reaction

I’m an advocate for learning through play but sometimes it’s hard for me to slow down and get involved in the kids’ play. I get caught up in everything else that needs to be done and I can be a bit of a stick in the mud. Today I decided to have some fun with the kids.

I was inspired by an awesome video from my friends at Knock Knock Children’s Museum. Since the quarantine started they’ve been releasing daily videos about various topics. Some of it has to do with making and tinkering, some videos are story time, others are arts and crafts or even physical activities. Today’s video was about chain reactions. You can check it out here.

I’ve always found chain reactions and Rube Goldberg machines to be exciting and fun so this felt like the right one for us. I showed the kids the video. They loved it and wanted to see more. So we went on YouTube and watched some other really awesome chain reaction videos. The look on their faces when I told them that we could make one erased all of the annoying things they’d done during the day. They were excited about science and excited to play with me.

We cleared off the table first. Then, I had them each gather five items that they thought we could use. We ended up with way more items and many things that we tried and scrapped. We must have spent close to an hour working on our chain reaction. Our end result wasn’t overly impressive but you can tell by our celebration that we were super proud of it.

It was 100% worth every minute of time we spent on it. It was fun to watch them problem solve together.It felt good to slow down and pay special attention to them without having to enforce a ton of rules. They suggested new things to try and I got to say yes every time. One more gift from this stupid virus. It’s a shitty situation but today at least some good came from it.

Self Quarantine Day 27: Easter Done Differently

Here goes Rona, making life strange again. This Easter is the most odd one that I’ve ever had. I’d even go so far as to say the weirdest Easter most of us have had.

This morning I watched Mass via Facebook. The Hubs was happy because he didn’t have to get dressed up and go. It was nice not to have to fight the kids and The Hubs to get up and get dressed for Church. As a cradle Catholic though, I missed the ritual of it all. The sign of peace is normally my favorite part and today it consisted of looking at The Hun and saying “peace be with you” while she climbed all over me. (She was the only one awake.) Hearing the prayers and songs brought a small piece of normalcy to the day.

My Dad’s Dad usually hosts the Family on Easter morning. He has for my entire life. This is the first Easter in 28 years that I haven’t hugged him and shared a meal with him. We talked about my garden and soap making. In true Pops fashion, he gave me advice. He cautioned me against always feeling like I have to complete bsomething on my to do list. Being a workaholic is a common trait in our family. He’s no stranger to burnout. He told me to slow down and make time to do nothing sometimes. The Universe speaks through him.

The kiddos were excited about their Easter baskets. The bunny did well this year. Beanie Baby type stuffed animals were a hit as were parachute men (of all things) and candy. I reused last year’s Easter Baskets and skipped the Easter grass in favor of tissue paper. While we didn’t dye Easter eggs (maybe tomorrow), the kids enjoyed playing with plastic eggs as they ran around in a flurry of sugar induced craziness.

We had biscuits, eggs, and bacon for breakfast. Not unusual fare for our Easter morning. Lunch was a different story though. Pops usually has a great spread. Pickled things, salad, crawfish étouffée or stew, potato salad, etc. Today the kids and The Hubs ate leftover burgers from yesterday and potato salad. I skipped the burger and just ate the potato salad. I’m not a burger person.

We played outside. I made some soap. The Hubs and Crazy Eyes are working on a mini garden planter kit that my grandmother gave her. The Boy is watching a movie next to me on the couch while I write. It’s quiet in the house. The Twins fell asleep without eating dinner. I expect that will bite me in the ass later but they didn’t nap so we’re just going with it.

It feels very unlike Easter. It’s been nice to slow down though. Tomorrow I’ll be back to working from home. One more day of doing my best to make it through. Here’s hoping that this all ends soon. Happy Easter everyone. May your hearts be filled with peace and happiness.

Self Quarantine Log Day 26: Washing Away Stress

Being a working Mom takes up almost every waking moment. If I’m not at work I’m thinking about work. If I’m not at work or thinking about work I’m taking care of my kids or thinking about them. Sometimes I’m doing it all at once. Working from home since the quarantine started has largely eliminated any feelings I had of work life balance. I know I’m not the only one either. It’s hard work to carve out time for the blog let alone something completely unrelated to work or kids or cleaning the house. “Me Time” has been somewhat unattainable.

I’ve mentioned before that I used to have lots of hobbies before the kids. Once upon a time I decided to try soap making. I enjoyed it but it was a short lived hobby because a single person can really only use so much soap and I moved on to another craft. Like a good little crafter I held onto my supplies but I nearly threw all of them in the trash a couple of months ago. Fortunately I didn’t.

Soap making is back in action! I’ve been ordering new supplies left and right and dreaming up new scent and oil combinations. The soap is fun to make. People are even interested in buying it and that’s exciting too. The most exciting part is making it though. For now I’m just using a melt and pour soap base and not making it from scratch. It’s a much faster process and requires less investment.

I’ve missed having a hobby that had nothing to do with the kids or work. I’d taken up embroidery for a while and enjoyed it but it can be time consuming. Cooking is fun but when you have to do it to feed your family and not just to make something cool it loses its appeal. Nothing like cooking something fancy only to hear someone whine about how they don’t like it to make you feel defeated. The kids like to help me with the soap and it’s a rather quick process. The Conqueror likes to scrape the leftover soap out of the bowl and they all enjoy smelling it as I mix it up.

I feel so accomplished when my soap is hardened and I can cut it and bag it. It’s a silly little thing but it’s good for my spirit. It’s a good lesson for me about self care. Self care is something I greatly struggle with even though I’ve gotten better about it. I think The Hubs sees that it’s good for me to have this time too. He’s always supportive when I’m trying new things but he’s working harder than ever to give me the support I need. I love him more now than I ever have and tell him often.

When all of this is over I may have a thousand bars of soap but that’s okay. The creation of each one will have helped to wash away a little of my stress. Scrub a dub dub!

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